Obama to renew push for paid leave for working parents _lowres

President Barack Obama signs a presidential memorandum on paid leave, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The presidential memorandum is to direct federal agencies to advance six weeks of paid sick leave that federal workers could use as paid family leave. Workers would have to pay back the sick leave over time. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Recent research reveals that 67 percent of Louisiana employed women did not have any paid leave after giving birth (higher than the national rate of 55 percent), and 45 percent of Louisiana workers in private industry did not have access to paid sick days (higher than the national rate of 39 percent). The lack of paid maternity and other paid family and sick leaves negatively impacts the health and economic well-being of individuals, families, employers, and communities. Conversely, use of paid leaves significantly promotes the health of parents, children, and other family members, bolsters financial security, sustains employment continuity, lessens employer turnover costs, reduces the spread of illness, and thereby enhances workplace productivity and lowers public health costs. For all these reasons, in 2013 the American Public Health Association urged adoption of paid family and sick leave policies at the national, state or local levels. Four states (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York) have implemented paid family and medical leave insurance programs, and several states and cities have adopted earned paid sick days policies. Evaluations indicate that these paid leaves are “win-win” policies benefiting workers, employers, and communities. Advocacy of the adoption of paid family and sick leaves is a very relevant policy for Louisianans to endorse.

Phyllis Hutton Raabe

adjunct assistant professor, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

Katherine Theall

associate professor, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

New Orleans