The fight for paid leave: Obama administration takes the lead

White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett used to make up excuses for leaving the conference room so she did not have to tell her colleagues that she had to pee when she was pregnant.

After her divorce, Jarrett was a single mom to one daughter, and felt the pressures single working mothers face, but she was one of the lucky ones, she says. Jarrett always worked for employers that provided paid family leave, or leave that provides paid time off to care for the employee themselves or their family members.

Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett opens up remarks at the White House Champions For Change event focused on working families. Photo credit: Hunter foote

Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett opens up remarks at the White House Champions For Change event focused on working families. Photo credit: Hunter foote

“I can tell you, as a working single mom, I can’t imagine what I would have done if I had not had paid sick time,” Jarrett said.

Now, Jarrett is on the front lines pushing policy and legislation for more paid leave across the nation on her Lead On Leave tour with Secretary Thomas Perez.

On April 16, 2015, The White House hosted its weekly event, Champions For Change. This week’s theme was on working families, and honored those “‘Champions For Change’ who support working families and help make change in their companies or communities,” according to the event site.

One of the Champions being honored was David Cleary, a physician in Providence, Rhode Island. Cleary become an advocate for the Rhode Island Temporary Caregiver Insurance law after he and his wife needed to care for their his three-year-old son, born with a rare brain malformation.

Because of the TCI Law in Rhode Island, Cleary said, he and his wife were able to spend their son’s final weeks without financial fear.


The only national legislation for leave is the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

According to the bill, “The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.”

Eligible employees can receive 12 weeks of leave annually for a new child in the home, caring for a spouse, child, or parent, serious health conditions and if a family member is on “covered active duty” for the military.

Statistics About National Paid and Unpaid Leave

The push for paid leave comes from research released in 2012, that while some were covered by the FMLA, not all could take leave because they could not afford it.

According to the study, 46 percent of people who had an unmet need for leave attributed their need to the “inability to afford leave.” Additionally, the study reported that 35.6 percent of male employees and 64.4% of female employees needed to take leave but did not take it.

As for paid leave, the Department of Labor reports that 12 percent of private sector workers have access to paid family leave.

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez talks about #LeadOnLeave and other problems with paid leave at the White House Champions For Change event focused on working families. Photo credit: Hunter Foote

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez talks about #LeadOnLeave and other problems with paid leave at the White House Champions For Change event focused on working families. Photo credit: Hunter Foote

“That means that if a working parent or one of their children is sick, they are likely to have to make the impossible choice between protecting their paycheck and job security and caring for themselves and those they love,” Jarrett said at Champions For Change.

A Changing Workforce

President Obama, Jarrett and Perez attribute the need for paid leave to the changing workforce.

“We know that, for example, our workforce has evolved dramatically over the last few decades,” Jarrett said at Champions For Change. “Nearly half of our workforce is comprised of women. Today, in more than six out of ten households with children, every adult works. In 1970, it was only four in ten. Forty percent of working women are the sole or primary breadwinner for their family.”

Paid leave is a large issue for women, as new studies show that women are 17 percent more likely to leave the workplace than men are when it comes to secondary earners in the home, and 75 percent of women in the workforce will experience at least one pregnancy while employed.

However, Jarrett, POTUS, and Perez have been quick to point out that this is not just a women’s issue, but just generally a family issue.

“Today, more than 30 million of America’s working families have young children, fathers are increasingly shouldering childcare responsibilities, and every year roughly 40 million Americans provide unpaid care for elderly relatives and loved ones – including the spouses of wounded veterans,” The Department of Labor said in a release.

According to the Department of Labor, one major reason workers need time off is not just for children, but for their parents as well. The generation in the workplace now is part of the “Sandwich Generation,” where middle-class families are taking care of loved ones on both ends of the generation scale.

“Nearly half (47 percent) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older),” a PEW Research Center report stated. “And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15 percent) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.

In the 2012 study, it said that only 9.2 percent of those whose need for leave was unmet had to do with a new child in the home. The majority, 49.7 percent, had to do with the worker’s own illness, followed closely by the parent’s, spouse’s or child’s health condition at 35.8 percent.

Companies That #LeadOnLeave

The event also featured Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who announced that his company not only would provide paid leave to their employees, but would also require its suppliers that have 50 or more employees give at least 15 days of paid leave a year to their employees.

Microsoft CEO introduces the President at the White House Champions For Change. Photo Credit: Hunter Foote

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduces the President at the White House Champions For Change. Photo Credit: Hunter Foote

“At Microsoft, we share our commitment to empower working people and their families. It’s simple for us,” Nadella said. “When people are healthy and working in an environment that values wellbeing and diversity, they do their best work. That’s why we long provided industry leading employee benefits including comprehensive health programs, childcare support, paid vacations, paid sick leave and more.”

States That #LeadOnLeave

California was the first state to enact state-wide legislature for paid leave in 2004, and has been the case study of paid leave legislature for the past decade. The California Paid Family Leave insurance program provides workers up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a sick child, spouse, parent, or registered domestic partner or a new child.

“In 2002, California became the first state in the nation to guarantee that workers can take time off to care for a family without losing their whole paycheck,” President Obama said. “Thirteen years later, only two states have done the same. Netsy’s (the instigator of California’s paid leave, Netsy Firestein) proved that it’s possible. California has grown, businesses are being created.”

New Jersey and Rhode Island are states that since have implemented paid leave laws in their own ways as well. The state of Washington passed legislation in 2007, but was never implemented.

Just this last week, Vermont made a “landmark move” and passed legislation in the House of Representatives “requiring employers to provide at least three days of paid sick leave to employees,” according to the Burlington Free Press.

POTUS Issues A Memorandum

In January, Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum which says that agencies must provide 240 hours of advanced sick leave and update their leave policies and ensure employees know their rights for unpaid leave.

President Obama adds his remarks at the end of the White House Champions For Change event focused on working families and paid leave. Photo credit: Hunter Foote

President Obama adds his remarks at the end of the White House Champions For Change event focused on working families and paid leave. Photo credit: Hunter Foote

“My memorandum of June 23, 2014 (Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs), directs the heads of executive departments and agencies to more fully utilize workplace flexibilities and work-life programs to promote recruitment, retention, employee engagement, and workforce productivity,” the signed memorandum reads.

This memorandum is part of Obama’s push toward “an economy that works for everyone,” he said.

At Champions For Change, Obama pointed out that the United States is one of the few countries in the world without paid leave.

“We are still the only advanced country on Earth without paid leave, so when a baby arrives … or an aging parent gets sick, too often workers have to make gut-wrenching choices about whether they can be there when their families need them most,” Obama said.

Opposition To Paid Leave

The main sources to opposition to legislation are Republicans and those who are worried about paying for leave and how it would effect the economy.

In an article by the New Yorker, reporter Andy Borowitz attempted to put the opposition from Congress in perspective. In the article, he said, “President Obama’s proposal to give workers six weeks of paid leave is meeting strong opposition from a group of people who annually receive thirty-three weeks of paid leave.”

Economic Support For Paid Leave

The main thing that proponents of paid leave come back to is that it is not only good for families, but good for the economy too.

“As we studied this issue, paid time off is good for business,” Nadella said. “It leads to increased productivity, employee retention and lower healthcare costs. It’s also good for people in society. Paid time off supports healthier workers and families, all of which is incredibly important to me.”

Additionally, in the conclusion of the “Economics of Paid Leave” report made by the Council of Economic Advisors for June 2014, the main point of the research says that paid leave benefits the country with retention and productivity.


Loretta Lynch is Attorney General, Ted Cruz misses the vote

According to a recent LA Times Article, Loretta Lynch has officially confirmed to be the next attorney general, but now presidential candidate Ted Cruz is taking the heat for essentially dissing her.

According the article, “‘I wanted to see a new attorney general who would be faithful to law, but her answers made that impossible,’ said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican presidential candidate who returned to Washington from the campaign trail to denounce Lynch on Thursday, but then left without voting on her confirmation.”

This will not be a good sign for the early presidential race for the candidate to start offending people, but he is not alone as Rand Paul has also offended reporters on television during the beginning of his race as well.

Microsoft Takes The Step and #LeadsOnLeave

President Obama, his Advisor, Valerie Jarrett, and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez have been traveling the last few days around the country to places like Chicago and North Carolina pushing their project for citizens to bring more labor rights to working families in the labor force, Lead On Leave.

One of the first large corporations to make a change for their employees, other than Patagonia, was Microsoft. According to the Huffington Post, “Microsoft will be taking steps to require all of its large U.S. contractors to offer their workers at least 15 days of paid leave per year.”

Although it was a large step for Obama’s administration, unfortunately, with Microsoft now having lost popularity with Apple, it makes people question, “Who cares?” Once a popular, trending big-name company comes, though, that may be the start of a huge movement for #LeadOnLeave.

Source: Forbes

Source: Forbes

According to the LA Times, Hillary Clinton may have a chance in the White House after being the First Lady, the Secretary of State, and now potentially as president herself.

Rather than emailing from her personal email, Clinton will announce her presidency on Sunday via a video posted through her social media.

Additionally, initial thoughts on the Democratic run say that Clinton will be the only big-name Democrat running.

“Clinton appears unlikely to face a stiff primary opponent, though a handful of lower-profile Democrats have said they are considering their own campaigns,” the LA Times said.

Of course, it makes sense, since who would want to take on the potential first female president with a resume like hers?

Pictured in tweet: Clinton and Obama hugging.

Rick Santorum Harps on Obama’s Alleged Failures at CPAC

Among topics like announcing the book he and his wife co-authored, Bella’s Gift, at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 27, 2015, former Senator Rick Santorum also blasted the current president’s role in office, and called for citizens to make a change this coming election.

Rick and Bella Santorum read a book together.

Rick and Bella Santorum read a book together.

According to Santorum, “It wasn’t just the president’s liberal outlook, but his profound lack of experience that created the problems for us here in America.”

After briefly going over his platforms like boosting the economy, being against Common Core, and being for the “little guys,” Santorum’s speech addressed the differences in opinion between the biggest threat to the nation: ISIS or global warming.

In his argument for more troops on the ground to fight the Islamic terror group, ISIS, Santorum correctly pulled from history the fact that Americans called Germany “Nazi Germany” even though a small percentage of the population identified as Nazis. In the same way, he claimed, Americans should be more apt to be weary of all of Islam.

“Some have suggested that only a small percentage of Islam is radical or militant. Even if one-tenth of 1 percent, one in a thousand muslims are radical, violent islamists, that number is larger than the active duty military of our country.”

However, While the exact number of Islam who support radicalism could not be verified, it is overwhelmingly true that most Muslims do not support radical violence.

According to a 2013 Pew Study on Muslims, “Muslims around the world strongly reject violence in the name of Islam. Asked specifically about suicide bombing, clear majorities in most countries say such acts are rarely or never justified as a means of defending Islam from its enemies.”

In another PEW study, it was reported that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. One-tenth of 1 percent of 1.6 billion is 16,000. The estimated number for the current active military is over one million active duty members.

Santorum said that Obama and other Democrats have turned a blind eye to the threat of ISIS in favor of global warming legislation.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t need a weather man in chief,” Santorum said. “We need a commander in chief to run this country.”


Source: Pew


Source: Pew

Although the former Senator criticized the current president and called for Americans to make a change this upcoming election, he did not declare candidacy for the presidential race.