This week history was made in Washington, D.C. as the Senate passed a defense bill that will see the more than 2 million federal workers in America get 12 weeks of paid parental leave.
This is huge.
It’s been a long, contentious battle to get here because while Republicans and Democrats both support paid leave, the parties and individual politicians within them disagree about how to do it.
Americans all over the political spectrum have recognized how important it is for the United States to shed its reputation as the only member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) without paid leave. And while America can’t leave that unfortunate title behind just yet, it is taking a step in the right direction by starting with federal workers.
As of October 2020, federal employees of all genders who have worked for the government at least a year will be able to take 12 weeks paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child.
This is a moment in history worth celebrating, but the work is not done yet. Just over 2 million workers got access to paid leave, but there are more than 157 million Americans working across the nation.
State governments are picking up where federal policy lacks: California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia all their own have paid leave programs, and in just a few days Washington State’s new paid leave program will see new parents start taking 12 weeks after a birth or adoption.
The defense bill that passed this week is a turning point, but you shouldn’t have to work for the government or live in a particular state to get paid leave.
This needs to be available to all American parents.
America is overdue for a national paid leave policy.