The “Advancing Support for Working Families” Act Won’t Help Low-income Workers Who Need Paid Leave

This statement can be attributed to Pronita Gupta, director of job quality at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Paid family and medical leave provides families the support they need to balance work and caregiving, but millions of workers—especially workers in low-wage jobs and workers of color—lack this critical benefit. Unfortunately, the bill introduced by Senators Cassidy and Sinema and Representatives Allred and Stefanik, the “Advancing Support for Working Families Act,” will do little to address this essential need. It offers a loan to new parents, which would have to be repaid over 10 to 15 years through reductions to their Child Tax Credit—a critical cash support for families working in low-wage jobs. This repayment would place a significant burden on parents in low-wage jobs, especially parents of color, who already contend with serious economic struggles in what is a formative time for their children’s development.
Working parents need paid leave as well as additional resources to cover the costs of child care and raising children—not a loan that could compromise their long-term economic stability.  Because the loan as proposed in the bill is only available to new parents, the bill leaves out over 70 percent of people who need paid leave to care for their own serious illness or to provide care for a seriously ill or injured loved one.

Also, the bill does not provide any worker a right to paid leave, meaning workers would risk losing their job if they take time off.  And low-wage workers could risk falling into even greater poverty.

Low-income families don’t need programs—such as this bill—that could erode their economic stability. They need comprehensive and inclusive paid family and medical leave that brings them peace of mind and economic security to take time to heal or care for a loved one. There’s only one bipartisan bill before Congress—the FAMILY Act—that would do just that. The Family Act builds on successful lessons from the eight states and the District of Columbia that have enacted paid family and medical leave policies.