Paid family leave as well as paid sick days are proving to be priority issues among voters going into 2016, according to a recent Roosevelt Institute poll. Four in five Americans also told NYT/CBS pollsters they support requiring employers to offer paid parental leave, and even more support paid sick days. The largest rise in support for a policy guaranteeing workers can access pay while they’re out on leave is among Republican supporters.
Given that the U.S. is one of only two countries worldwide not offering paid maternity (and paternity) leave, these are issues especially important for young women, but also a growing concern of young men and of those caring for aging parents. Voters want substance in these debates. So to that end, below is a list of questions to the individual candidates that the Family Values @ Work network hopes to see answered in the next debate. Future moderators, take note!
Donald Trump: “More than two hundred business school professors recently sent a letter to Congress making the business case for a paid family and medical leave insurance fund like the one proposed in the FAMILY Act. Do you disagree with them, and if so, why?”
Governor Christie: “As a candidate for Governor, you said you would overturn your state’s Family Leave Insurance program, and you haven’t included money in the budget for education and outreach on it. Yet research on the program shows it has aided workers and their families and not been a burden on businesses. You also have said you oppose a pending paid sick days law. Why do you oppose these measures and what do you propose instead to guarantee workers have the time they need to care for themselves and loved ones without fear of losing a paycheck or a job?”
Dr. Carson: “Dr. Mark Schuster and Dr. Paul Chung wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine: ‘Health care providers and public health officials routinely recommend that acutely ill children stay home from school and, if necessary, see a clinician…But for many employed parents, taking time off to care for a sick child means losing income or, worse, risking their job.’ These physicians urge health care professionals to advocate for policies like paid sick days. Do you agree with them? If not, why not?”
Governor Kasich: “Rep. Paul Ryan recently said to the Republican caucus, ‘I cannot and will not give up my family time.’ Yet he voted against a paid parental leave bill for federal employees and does not support pending legislation for paid sick days or a national family leave insurance fund. As someone who has stated that “nothing is more important to me than my faith, my family and my friends,” do you think that’s hypocritical?”
Carly Fiorina: “You have said that providing paid leave should be left up to employers. Yet only 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to employer-paid family leave andfewer than 40 percent have medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability program. After passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guaranteed up to 12 weeks of unpaid time , two-thirds of employers had to make some shift in policy in order to comply. How will voluntary action alone solve the problem now?”
Senator Rubio: “You have proposed a tax credit as a way to increase the number of employers providing paid family leave. How will repaying 25 percent of the cost enable small business owners to afford paid leave? Do you have examples where this approach has been successful, particularly in reaching the low-wage and part-time workers who need paid family and medical leave the most?”
Governor Bush: “Gov. Rick Scott of your state signed into law a bill that prohibits local communities from passing laws on policies like paid sick days. Doesn’t this contradict the principle of local control? Would you have signed that bill?”
Senators Rubio, Paul and Cruz: “You senators voted against a non-binding budget amendment proposed by Senator Patty Murray earlier this year to enable workers to earn up to 7 paid sick days. Yet the amendment received bipartisan support with a number of your Republican colleagues voting in favor. Why did you oppose that measure? What is your solution for the millions of workers in this country who do not have access to even one paid sick day?”
Governor Huckabee: You have worked for programs that encourage appropriate involvement of both parents in the life of a child, with priority given to programs that specifically address the involvement of fathers. Do you support policies that ensure fathers can afford to take paternity leave to bond with a new baby or take a sick day to care for a sick child?
All: “Do you support the idea of a social insurance fund like that proposed in the FAMILY Act, where employees and employers pool small contributions to make wages available while workers need to welcome a new baby or care for a serious personal or family illness? If not, what is your alternative?”
By Ellen Bravo, Executive Director, Family Values @ Work