The need for strong paid family leave policies in the United States, particularly for low- income families, is a public justice matter that deserves our attention. Our inaction on this issue has failed children and their families across the country.
While a variety of institutions, including churches and non-profits, can speak, raise awareness, and support family supportive policies, only government can ensure paid family leave policies for all low-income workers through appropriate laws.
We should advocate for paid family leave policies at the local, state, and federal level. When thinking about principles that should animate these policies, citizens can ask:
- Do proposed policies empower and enable families to fulfill their primary responsibility to raise and nurture children, or might they diminish or replace it?
- Do proposed policies take into account and appropriately address the impact a lack of paid leave has on low-income working families, part-time workers, or workers at small businesses?
- How is the policy funded? Is the allocation of funding, for example, between all employees, businesses, and general taxation just?
- Connect with organizations in our states advocating for paid family leave policies. This may be a national organization working in the state or a state or local organization.
- Consider writing, calling or visiting your state and local lawmakers and other key decision makers to talk about paid family leave policies. This can include asking what their position is and asking about specific proposals in light of the questions above.
In addition to considering specific legislative proposals, citizens can:
The Church as an institution has a distinct role in the support of families. While the Church’s role includes supporting the family and the formation of children, this can and should include the recognition of the importance of a child’s early years and the role parents play in their child’s life. With this in mind, churches should consider how public policies like paid family leave fit into their broader concern for thriving families. This requires considering the impact of paid family leave policies for all parents, both within and outside of the congregation.
Additionally, as one expression of Christ’s love, the churches can consider how a lack of paid family leave policies disproportionally affect the poor, and how government’s role in upholding public justice can help people honor their roles as both parents and workers. Lastly, churches can encourage Christians to take their citizenship responsibilities seriously, and to advocate for just public policies.
NON-PROFITS AND BUSINESSES
Employers should recognize and affirm that their employees are not only employees, and that what it means to be human is far deeper and broader than the work a person accomplishes. This requires recognizing and honoring the multiple roles employees play, including as parents, and identifying ways that businesses can help employees fulfill their role as parents. While government legislation is an essential baseline, particularly for low-income families, employers can and should look at the full spectrum of options available to them, for the good of their businesses and their employees.