In another preview of President Obama’s State of the Union address next week – a preview that was itself previewed by White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett in an article she posted Wednesday on LinkedIn, the job networking site – Obama is clearly demonstrating he’s already thinking toward 2016 and the Democrats’ prospects for that election.
On Thursday the president is pressing Congress to adopt a law requiring employers with more than 15 workers to let those workers accrue up to seven days of paid sick leave each year. He will also sign a presidential memorandum – similar to an executive order – ensuring that federal employees are granted six weeks of paid leave upon the arrival of a new child. He’ll ask Congress to make similar allowances for its staff.
Noting that 43 million U.S. workers have no form of paid sick leave at all, Jarret in her article made the business case for the president’s proposal.
“Fixing that won't just make life better for millions of American families,” she wrote. “It will ultimately improve the financial bottom lines of the companies that choose to step up and make a change on their own – which is precisely why this news is breaking first on LinkedIn.”
She continued, “If you’re an employer, the folks who are coming to your company’s pages will be looking to see if you offer precisely these sorts of policies… These are the policies that will attract the best new talent. They are the policies that will make the employees you hire more productive — and encourage them to stay longer. Keep in mind that nearly one in two working parents has turned down a job because it would not work for their family. Don’t let your job be one of those.”
Also on Wednesday, the president will ask Congress to spend $2.2 billion in new funding to support state-level efforts to create paid family and medical leave programs.
The legislation Obama is touting, the Healthy Families Act, is not new. It has been introduced in every Congress since former Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy first proposed it in 2004. It would allow workers to accumulate one hour of sick leave for, at most, every 30 hours worked, up to a minimum of seven days. The time could be used when workers become ill, have medical appointments, or need to care for family members.
Supporters note that the U.S. stands alone among developed countries in not offering workers paid sick leave. This country is similarly unique in that paid leave on the birth or adoption of a child is also not mandatory.
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