Today, 203 professors from 88 business and management schools, including the nation’s most prestigious institutions, sent an unprecedented letter to Congress urging members to pass the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act – legislation that would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. The professors cite research showing the benefits of paid leave for workers and businesses and conclude that the FAMILY Act offers a smart, affordable way to establish a national standard.
“Our letter includes some of the most distinguished faculty from nearly 90 schools who all agree that establishing a national paid family and medical leave program would help America’s businesses and families thrive,” said Dr. Stewart D. Friedman, lead author of the letter and practice professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Friedman also directs the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. “For the sake of the future business leaders and professionals we teach and the nation’s workforce, our hope is that this letter strengthens paid leave advocacy efforts and makes it clear to Congress that the FAMILY Act should be a top priority.”
The FAMILY Act would establish a paid family and medical leave insurance program that would be funded through small employer and employee contributions. It is modeled on programs in place in three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The national program would allow workers to earn a portion of their pay when they need time off to address their own serious health issue, including pregnancy and childbirth; to deal with the serious health issue of a parent, spouse, domestic partner or child; to care for a newborn or newly adopted child; and/or for specific military-related purposes.
“We are thrilled with this letter, and enormously grateful to Dr. Friedman and all the signers, who are doing a great service to the country with this initiative,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, which convenes the national coalition pushing for the legislation. “The FAMILY Act is a tested, common sense approach to guaranteeing paid leave. That business professors are expressing their support for the proposal further strengthens the business case for a national program and adds to the momentum around paid leave we have seen among business leaders and state and local lawmakers. It is past time for Congress to recognize the growing support for the FAMILY Act across communities – and that our nation will be better off when it becomes law.”
Major companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Nestle and others have recently announced expansions of their paid leave policies, citing employee retention and recruitment and other benefits. Despite this trend, most workers in the country do not have access to paid family or medical leave. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 13 percent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have access to personal medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability insurance program.
“It is a tremendously promising sign that more and more businesses are recognizing the benefits of providing paid leave and ensuring that their employees can take the time they need when serious illness or injuries strike or new children arrive,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership. “But the sad reality is that there will always be employers who refuse to establish supportive policies and states that fail to create their own programs. That is why a national standard is so important, and why we are seeing business experts in academia joining the leaders of companies like Patagonia and EILEEN FISHER in endorsing the FAMILY Act.”
“At a time when companies are increasingly making paid leave policy changes to support their employees and the president just expressed his support for a national paid leave law for the first time, we, as a nation, have an opportunity to adopt a policy that supports the populations, workforces and businesses of today and tomorrow,” said Dr. Friedman. “The FAMILY Act is that policy.”
The business professors’ letter to Congress, signed by 203 deans and professors from 88 institutions, is available here.