The United States is the only industrialized, modernized country that does not have a paid family medical leave program in place. As the coronavirus pandemic enters its second year, it's more important than ever that our country leaves that shameful designation in the past and embraces paid family and medical leave for American workers.

Nearly 200 businesses have joined in an open letter to Congressional leaders, urging them to work with the Biden administration to pass legislation to create a lasting federal paid family leave program. Motherly is proud to join companies large and small from across the country in supporting this crucial legislation. Our readers are in favor of this, too. In our 2021 State of Motherhood Survey, 73% of our readers placed their support behind paid family leave.

"The pandemic has exposed an acute emergency on top of an ongoing, chronic crisis," the letter reads. "At the onset of the pandemic, fewer than 21 percent of workers had access to paid leave through their employers. Lack of a national paid leave policy makes all of us more vulnerable during this pandemic and for future public health emergencies, while putting the financial stability of businesses on the line." The letter argues that it's imperative to pass nationwide paid family and medical leave "so we're never unprepared for a crisis again."

We know that paid family and medical leave policies are good for working people and the economy. They show employees that they are valued, and help employees care for themselves and their families while remaining in the workforce. Paid leave also leads to better retention, personal health, and improved morale. Simply put, paid leave is better for business—and America.

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed millions out of the workforce in the past year—mostly women.

"Paid leave is also a key element of addressing racial, class, and gender inequalities in the United States," the letter continues. "With an equal paid leave policy in place, we can help stem the historic tide of women leaving the workforce and ensure that low-wage earners and people of color have the time they need to care for themselves and their families."

"At Motherly, we see firsthand how the lack of paid family leave disproportionately impacts mothers, contributing to the US having the highest rate of maternal death in the developed world," says Motherly co-founder Jill Koziol. "Our annual State of Motherhood survey shows today's mothers, regardless of political affiliation, are united on their desire to see Congress act. Now is the time for the US to shed its reputation as the only member country of OECD that has not implemented paid leave on a national basis."

"I'm proud to join the nearly 200 business leaders calling on Congress to create a policy solution for paid family and medical leave," Koziol says.

We know that paid leave is something that most Americans want, too. More than 8 in 10 Americans support creating a national paid leave policy and a recent report found that more than 75 percent of businesses agree that a national paid leave policy would help them be better positioned to weather future public health emergencies and economic crises.

"This crisis has given us a unique opportunity to build stronger and more equitable workplaces for working people, families, and businesses, while investing in our nation's economic recovery. We urge Congress to meet the moment by passing a comprehensive federal paid family and medical leave policy that provides long-term health benefits and economic security to all American families and contributes to the vitality and sustainability of our businesses."

"When families thrive, we all thrive," concludes the letter.

We are encouraged by the wave of public support for paid family leave. We know Americans want and need support from their workplaces and government. We know it will benefit children and parents, employees and employers. We know it's long overdue.

It shouldn't have taken a pandemic to get nationwide attention and support for paid family leave. Now that we're here, we hope that Congressional leaders listen to their constituents and pass legislation to create a permanent framework for paid family leave in America.

Families shouldn't be forced to choose between making ends meet and being there for a loved one when they're needed most.

We can do better. Congress, help us do better.

To show your support for a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, visit Paid Leave for the United States.