CLASP, Businesses Strongly Support President’s Focus on Working Families

WASHINGTON, D.C.—This week, President Obama announced a major push to improve the lives of working families. The actions he outlined will address priority issues for CLASP, such as earned sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance. CLASP commends the White House for taking concrete steps to support low-income families and lower-wage workers. In addition to helping families, these actions will create a more effective workforce—improving business’ bottom lines and driving economic growth.

The president called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, federal legislation that would create a national earned sick days standard. He also urged states and localities to pass their own legislation. In addition, Obama proposed more than $2 billion in funding for states to develop paid family and medical programs. And he took steps to improve paid parental leave for federal workers.

“The Administration’s support for earned sick days and paid family and medical leave demonstrates a keen awareness of working families’ needs. Millions of Americans are currently losing wages and jobs in order to care for their families and their health,” said Liz Ben-Ishai, senior policy analyst at CLASP. “It is encouraging to see broad support for the president’s actions from all corners of our society, including both workers and employers. In fact, more than 340 employers have signed on in support of local and state earned sick days legislation and a growing number of business leaders are speaking in support of a federal proposal for paid family and medical leave.”

Yesterday, both Small Business Majority and the American Sustainable Business Council released statements in support of the president’s announcement. Business support for paid leave has been building for some time. Speaking about the benefits of earned sick days, Jennifer Piallat, owner of a bistro called Zazie, said: “Paid sick days have helped my workforce be healthy and productive and have helped my bottom line.” Her restaurant is located in San Francisco, which became the first city to pass an earned sick days law in 2007.

David Deal, CEO and founder of Community IT Innovators in Washington, D.C., said he had little difficulty implementing D.C.’s sick days law, which was passed in 2008 and amended in 2013. Deal explained: “I think the business case for paid sick days is that by creating a better environment for your employees, you are going to have better employee retention; and I think employee retention is one of the fundamental things that leads to a successful bottom line.”

Business leaders from across the country have also voiced their support for a national paid family and medical leave insurance program; this includes the  Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a pending bill introduced last year by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). Tom Nides, vice chair of Morgan Stanley, said, “A federal law that guarantees all workers paid family and medical leave is critical to supporting our people and economic stability. I support the FAMILY Act because it is not only good for families and businesses; it also makes economic sense.”

Polling by Small Business Majority found that a plurality of small business owners support a national paid family and medical leave insurance program like the FAMILY Act. Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, explained: “No parent should be forced to rush back to work after the birth or adoption of a child. When new parents get the time they need to bond with their kids, they come back to work as more loyal and productive employees. That’s why I support the FAMILY Act, federal legislation that would help small businesses like mine to offer paid family and medical leave. It’s good for business and for workers – and it may help to spur the culture change that is so needed in our workplaces.” 

CLASP strongly urges Congress to approve the President’s budget proposals, which will offer a major boost to states and localities contemplating paid leave programs. Congress should also heed the President’s encouragement to pass legislation to guarantee federal workers paid parental leave and should move the FAMILY Act forward during this legislative session.