Michigan does not require paid parental leave. Should he?

LANSING, Michigan — Michigan began offering paid parental leave to in-state workers in fall 2020. They get up to 12 weeks on full pay after the birth or adoption of a child.

But most Michiganders don’t.

Proponents say paid family leave gives kids a head start, reduces financial strain and keeps parents in the workforce.

“Paid parental leave is critically important for families welcoming a new child. We know that right now in this country, around one in five women are back at work within two weeks of being born. giving birth because she doesn’t have access to paid family and medical leave,” said Ruth Martin Chief Workplace Justice Officer and Senior Vice President at MomsRising. “That means you may have barely recovered from a C-section. , or just the trauma of having a baby, which is a wonderful thing. It asks a lot of you. And may be harmful to women’s health.”

But most states don’t require employers to offer paid parental leave, including Michigan.

“A number of states have passed paid family medical leave laws at the state level, Washington, California, and New York, Rhode Island, to name a few. Colorado just adopted a bit of Massachusetts, and a few others as well,” Martin says.

Erin Buitendorp and her husband, Paul Wozniak, live in Lansing and have a 2-year-old son. As of 2019, Erin had worked for the City of Lansing for less than a year, which was not long enough to qualify for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Instead, she had to use her sick days, vacations and request unpaid absences.

“I mean, it was kind of scary. You’re used to a bi-weekly or monthly salary or whatever,” Buitendorp said.

She says they had her husband’s income to rely on as well as paid holidays given by those who worked, but that was only half their income.

“So you know, when you have a mortgage and your Verizon bill, and your boarding bill, and water and electric bill, and yeah, all the stuff and then more, nobody really talks about the kids’ expenses until that the child is there,” Buitendorp said.

Her husband says that although it was stressful, they were privileged to be able to make it work.

“Our thing was kind of like, if we feel like we’re struggling with all the perks and privileges that we have, I can only imagine for someone who didn’t have a flex job with their work time or didn’t have family medical leave or something like that,” Wozniak said.

There is no national law requiring any sort of paid parental leave in the United States.

“A group of us a few years ago, on a bipartisan basis, approved, paid 12 weeks leave for all of our military and all of our federal government employees for childbirth or adoption or a sick family member,” the U.S. representative said. .Elissa Slotkin.

It was revolutionary but it does not apply to everyone.

“There are proposals to extend that 12 weeks across the country and make it a requirement for most businesses. But right now it’s just that we don’t have that,” Slotkin said.

And compared to other countries, the United States is very short of time. For example, in Sweden, a single parent can benefit from 480 days of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child. And a couple can have 480 days in total, so 240 days each.

“Most other countries around the world have some form of at least paid parental leave, many others also have your own medical or other child care leave. And the United States is an exception worldwide,” Martin said.

Lindsay Admon is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan and a maternal health researcher.

She says paid parental leave policies are “key to ensuring optimal health for mothers and their children in that first year of life.”

She also believes that longer parental or maternity leave would cover the period when at least 40% of maternal deaths occur.

“Paid parental leave policies have shown many benefits. One of them is improved attendance rates for postpartum visits and reduced racial and ethnic disparities in access to postpartum care. So I think not only would paid parental leave be good for everyone giving birth, but it has the potential to reduce racial inequities is how postpartum health care is delivered,” Admon said.

State Representative Stephanie Young, D-Detroit, introduced Bill 5350 in September.

“My bill is about parental leave, making sure people don’t have to worry about losing their jobs to do what should be given and create that bond with your child, both with the newborns, babies, as well as adopted children. This is an important moment,” Young said. “It was a package of nine bills about parental leave and caring for our families. And he currently sits on the committee.”

She says he hasn’t received a hearing yet, but hopes he will.

“I just believe that when you work in an environment where you sometimes feel like business takes precedence over human capital, that’s what slows that process down, because you’re going to consider missing out on some of your workforce. work during this time, which could result in lower revenue for the company,” she said. “But how do you weigh that against healthy workers.”

So why doesn’t Michigan have it?

“Year after year there have been bills in the Michigan legislature with a proposal to enact a paid vacation system. There is even a proposal for a ballot. But no progress has been made in our legislation. And one of the biggest obstacles to adopting a paid leave leave system for our state has been interest groups in the business community,” said Bobby Dorigo Jones, vice president of Michigan’s Children, a non-profit organization that advocates for public policies that support children.

He says that each time, business interest groups have fundamentally refused to engage in negotiations on the concrete details of a proposal.

“How much free time? How is it accumulated and earned? And who really pays? Jones said. “The question of who pays is very political and very costly for a lot of different people. And really no progress will be made until people across the state demand that people come to the table and negotiate around the plan that fairly rewards time off to workers who have earned it, and it is paid fairly based on who has resources and who can afford it.

But Wendy Block, vice president of business advocacy and member engagement at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, says a government mandate may not be the right move.

“There are already laws in place, dealing with this, like we talked about Michigan’s paid medical leave law. There’s also the federal family medical leave law. There are insurance policies in place. And so you know, at this point, we don’t support moving to more government mandates in this regard,” Block said.

But FMLA isn’t always paid leave, and Michigan’s paid medical leave law excludes many workers and only requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide 40 hours of paid medical leave per year.

“We think these decisions about what paid leave looks like should be made in the workplace between employers and employees and a union if there is one, but really this type of government, a one-size-fits-all approach can not benefit all workers and meet them where they are,” Block said.

She says the government can get creative in different ways without a mandate.

“Trying to incentivize the kinds of programs through tax credits and such, so an employer can talk to their employees and say, ‘Hey, you know, this tax credit exists, a tax incentive exists . Should we think about doing Is something you would enjoy,” Block said.

But advocates say what some states currently have proves that paid parental leave works, and these policies could be a roadmap for Michigan.

“These paid leave laws that exist are extremely important information and data that show that these policies are working. And that we should be able to do that nationally by just setting a minimum floor,” Martin said.

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