For the first time in a presidential campaign, both the Democratic and Republican nominees have put forward plans calling for mandated paid leave.
While Donald Trump's proposal covers only mothers and is not as expansive as Hillary Clinton's plan, it still represents the first time a Republican presidential nominee has spoken
out in favor of paid leave, something that only Democratic presidential nominees have done in recent years.
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not mandate leave for women after they give birth, and it seems the American public has had enough of that designation. One poll this year found that three out of four Americans support a law calling for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for workers.
With the majority of the public behind the concept, what are the chances it will happen?
I posed that question during a recent panel I moderated on paid parental leave at the 2016 Concordia Summit. The summit is sponsored by Concordia, a nonprofit organization bringing together public and private sector leaders to collaborate on solutions to some of the biggest problems impacting our world.
Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from New York who was elected to her first term in 2015, said she couldn't imagine this issue getting "walked back" when there is such public support for it.
"The big obstacle is the hyperpartisan situation that we have in Washington," said Rice, who provides 16 weeks of paid leave for her sta. "My hope is that after this presidential election, the fact that we have had this kind of presidential election in our lifetime will be a wake-up call to me and my colleagues to actually put aside all of our ideological intransigence and actually try to get something done."
The private sector leading the way
Getting members of Congress to hear the first-hand accounts from businesses that have decided to provide paid leave to their employees and continue to be successful would definitely help, said Rice.
"We should be looking to our partners in the private sector, watching how they do it and (how) they're still profitable," she said.
The panel included representatives from Etsy, Foursquare and Hilton, which all started oering generous paid leave policies this year: Etsy provides 26 weeks of fully paid leave to both female and male employees who become parents through birth or adoption; Foursquare oers 12 weeks of fully paid leave for primary caregivers, who assume the principal role of providing care after birth or adoption, and eight weeks for secondary caregivers; and Hilton oers 10 weeks of full pay for birth mothers and two weeks fully paid for all new parents, including fathers and adoptive parents.
"As we launched, we had a lot of our peers and competitors and other folks in the service industry ask us, 'Well, how could you do it? How can you aord this?' " said Laura Fuentes, senior vice president of talent, rewards and people analytics for Hilton Worldwide.
More than 500 hundred people are either currently on leave or have already used the new policy at Hilton, said Fuentes. "It doesn't break the bank. It doesn't drive you into bankruptcy, and in fact, I hope that over time, we'll also be able to demonstrate the retention and engagement play," she said.
The more companies that oer paid leave and the more they see the economic benefits from retention, the more pressure there will be on the government to actually roll out a mandatory nationwide policy, said Nitzia Logothetis, founder and interim CEO of the Seleni Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the reproductive and maternal mental health care needs of women. Seleni helped program and co-hosted the panel on paid leave at the Concordia Summit.
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