Getting Down to Business: News on Employers and Paid Leave (January 2014 )
January 10, 2014 | Liz ben-Ishai
Getting Down to Business: News on Employers and Paid Leave
In this Issue
Getting Down to Business is CLASP's monthly update on business and paid leave news. If you have news you want to share with your colleagues around the country, let us know. And be sure to let your area businesses know about Better Workplaces, Better Businesses, a website that aggregates news and research related to business and paid leave and highlights business supporters of paid leave from around the country.
Happy New Year! We hope you had a wonderful holiday and took some time to celebrate the success of our movement over the past year. Building on that momentum, 2014 promises to be an exciting year—and business support for paid leave will no doubt continue to play a pivotal role in local, state, and national campaigns.
A powerful investment banker is lending his voice to the fight for paid family leave. Tom Nides, former deputy secretary of state and current vice chair at Morgan Stanley, delivered remarks at a press event marking introduction of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act and was interviewed by two major press outlets. In a Washington Post piece in December, Nides described his reaction to learning that State Department staff members do not have access to paid parental leave: “This is insane. How can we operate as a country like this?’ [Paid leave] is just the right thing to do.”
Nides also gave a compelling interview to the Public News Service of New York that was picked up by other radio stations. He explained the business case for paid leave, advocating for both the federal FAMILY Act and a state-level family leave insurance program for New York. “There's no question,” he said, “that studies have shown that individuals given the opportunity to have a few weeks to take care of a newborn or a sick family member say it's critically important to the productivity of that individual.” Read the Washington Post article >> Listen to the Public News Service interview >>
Economists Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman got 2014 off to a good start for the paid sick days movement when they presented preliminary research findings from their study of Connecticut’s sick days law, which was the first state-level law in the country. Connecticut businesses say that the law, passed in 2011 and effective January 2012, has had minimal effect on them. Appelbaum and Milkman suggest that the law has been a relative non-issue for businesses’ bottom lines and has in fact had positive effects, such as decreasing the spread of illness and increasing morale. See the presentation >>
Advocates can find an exciting new resource on the website "Better Workplaces, Better Businesses," which is a repository for information on business and paid leave and the home of a national list of paid leave business supporters. The site, which is sponsored by the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance, and Social Venture Network, now features written testimonies from business supporters of both earned sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance. These should prove useful in both highlighting national support for paid leave and working with businesses to draft their own testimonies for future hearings and events. Read business testimonies in support of paid leave >>
When it comes to paid paternity leave, “there’s something in it for the bottom line,” says Emerita Sociology Professor Arlie Hochschild. In a recent Atlantic article, the influential scholar argues that paternity leave is not only important for child development and gender equality, but there is also a compelling business case for the policy, which most American employers lack and no federal law requires. Hochschild explains that when dads are able to take leave, they too master the domestic tasks that keep families going. She writes, “In an increasingly unpredictable economy...spouses need to cross-train at home.” The writer also notes that Singapore and Finland, two countries that rank ahead of the U.S. in the World Economic Forum’s evaluation of countries’ business climates, both have paid paternity leave laws. Read the article >>
This month, the NJ Main Street Alliance released a report that makes an air-tight business case for a proposed sick days ordinance in Newark, NJ. This adds to the already-strong momentum of Newark’s campaign, which is highly likely to succeed. Drawing on research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), the report estimates that the ordinance would provide a $12.7 million financial benefit to employers more than making up for the law’s modest costs (16 cents per hour for eligible workers). That didn’t surprise Mikali Harris, co-owner of Newark cupcake business Sweet Retreat, who says the benefits of paid sick days are obvious: “When your employees are healthy, they will be more productive and provide better customer service.” Read the report >>
When the FAMILY Act was introduced last month, many business leaders spoke in support. Here are some of the highlights:
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