Dear Mr. President,
My name is Sonya and I am writing to share my deeply-held belief that America would greatly benefit from a national bill granting paid sick days, as well as a national medical leave insurance program.
I am a 33 year old mother of a now ten month-old son. I have been working in the restaurant industry in D.C. for the last 14 years, while I finished my masters degree at GMU. I found it extremely difficult to work through the pregnancy as well as provide for my son after he was born, as this industry, like many others, does not generally provide any benefits and there are none that are nationally available to help those that are in a similar situation as I am.
My husband works in the same industry, so we split the child care responsibilities between us; he takes our son on nights I work, and I take him on nights my husband does. Due to the lack of paid maternity or paternity leave, and the nature of shift work, we could not afford outside childcare and must simply switch back and forth. The first nine months I stayed home to care for our son; my husband worked six days a week. I have since returned to work, and we switch back and forth, to the complete detriment of the ability to spend time together as a family.
Due to the fact that I had no paid sick days during the pregnancy, I was forced to miss potentially lucrative shifts due to necessary appointments regarding my high-risk pregnancy. The need for time off to attend these appointments made it extremely difficult to keep my regular schedule, leading to financial unpredictability and instability. This made catching up on our bills from the doctors and the delivery almost impossible. Paid sick days would have greatly lessened the instability during this time, and a national medical family leave insurance program would have been incredibly helpful.
It is with great concern that I note that ours is one of the only developed nations that does not have a progressive familial leave policy. A more progressive policy should be present in order to promote the emphasis on the unity of family, the prioritization of the participation in one’s own child’s life, and to strengthen the systems and safety nets for those of all incomes when it comes time to have a family. The promotion of proper care of oneself (paid sick days) and ones family (FMLI) is incredibly important to the future of our nation as a whole. We can do better.
I ask, Mr. President, that you urgently address these issues; please confer with your colleagues in Congress, as well as local leaders, pressuring them to pass more legislation in favor of paid sick days and FMLI, in order to protect the American family. Keeping a family happy and healthy takes time, and if one’s financial stability lies in the balance as a consequence, there is a gaping hole in policy that needs to be filled. Many nations these issues priorities and have succeeded in helping support families, so why can’t we? It seems the prudent thing to do.
Thank you for your time and attention, as well as your leadership.