Today the White House is convening a Summit on Working Families, so it’s a good time for your regular reminder that the US’s policies for working families are the absolute worst. Seriously, whatever policy recommendations the President makes today, they will be an improvement.
The US is just one of three countries with no guaranteed paid maternity leave, and of 34 developed countries, one of two that doesn’t ensure men can take paternity leave. Only 11 percent of Americans in the private sector have access to some sort of paid family leave. Most other wealthy countries also have things like paid sick days–a benefit that 41 million people in this country lack–and affordable child care. Just imagine!
The US’s family-unfriendly policies are likely part of the reason that we lag behind other developed countries in the percentage of women who participate in the workforce, but as President Obama said in his radio address today, this isn’t just about women. “Men also care about who’s watching their kids. They’re rearranging their schedules to make it to soccer games and school plays. Lots of sons help care for aging parents. And plenty of fathers would love to be home for their new baby’s first weeks in the world.”
The President is calling on Congress to pass some key piece of legislations, like the long-languishing Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the FAMILY Act that would provide families with up to 12 weeks of paid leave. But, as usual, the GOP–the party that loves to talk about “family values” but not actually support them–said the White House summit is just “political theater” and unveiled their agenda for working families. First up? Legislation that would give parents a tax deduction for their home office if they have a baby crib. Bold moves.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.