Paid Family & Medical Leave Expert Celebrates House Passage of the Build Back Better Act, Urges Swift Senate Action to Ensure Working People Can Care for Themselves and Their Loved Ones

Statement of Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow for Paid Leave Policy and Strategy at New America’s Better Life Lab
Press Release
Nov. 19, 2021

“The United States is one step closer today to finally enacting a national paid family and medical leave program so that every working person can care for themselves, a new child or an ill loved one. Paid leave – which is far too rare and limited for the vast majority of workers – supports women’s and all caregivers’ full participation in the labor force. It boosts earnings, mitigates families’ costs, honors the caregiving that happens within our homes, promotes racial and economic justice, and shrinks health disparities. Reams of research from states, employers, and other countries shows that paid leave works.

Together with historic investments in child care, home-and community-based care for older adults and people with disabilities and family-supporting tax relief, the paid leave provision in Build Back Better will set the country on a path to truly supporting working families, living our family values, and strengthening the economy.

I commend Speaker Pelosi, House Ways & Means Chairman Neal, Representative DeLauro and members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus for their steadfast leadership in insisting that paid family and medical leave remain part of the Build Back Better package – and the advocates and workers across the country whose outrage gave lawmakers the certainty of knowing that including paid leave was the only right thing to do. From rural America to our urban core, from the smallest states to the largest ones, Americans want and need paid family and medical leave.

The Build Back Better Act now moves to the Senate where its historic and transformational paid leave provisions could once again be at risk. Passing paid leave in Build Back Better is the only timely pathway to putting paid family and medical leave in reach of an estimated 18.5 million people who need time away from work to care for themselves or a loved one each year and do not have paid leave do so now – too often at an unacceptable costs to themselves, their loved ones, their employers and all of us. There is no Plan B that will deliver like this in any reasonable timeframe. I urge Senate Majority Leader Schumer to do everything in his power to ensure a national paid family and medical leave program becomes law.


Policy Background

Read New America's summary of the paid leave provisions in Build Back Better Act, which would provide four weeks of comprehensive paid family and medical leave to eligible workers, and the seven positive outcomes of a well-constructed, inclusive, and supportive paid family and medical leave program. Click here for a fact sheet on care economy investments in Build Back Better, which contains links to many more New America resources on paid leave, child care and pre-K, the care workforce and home-and community-based care.

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