Smart living: Working moms and paid leave
January 2, 2020
If you're a working woman, how important is extended time off to you?
A recent survey showed 70% of the women who left the workforce did so because they needed flexibility, like time to care for a new baby, adopted child, or a sick family member.
President Donald Trump recently announced he will soon sign into law 12 weeks of paid leave for federal employees.
The issue remains for other workers.
Ashley Macleay is packing up and moving out. She and her husband need more room for their expanding family. When little Michael arrives, Ashley will take two weeks of vacation offered by her employer, followed by six weeks of unpaid leave,under the Family Leave and Medical Act.
In fact, one in four women go back to work within two weeks of giving birth, because they can't afford to lose the pay or their job.
Ashley admits it could get tight in those weeks without her paycheck.
"I'm currently paying student loans, and we have a mortgage," she says.
Inez Stepman is with the Independent Women's Forum, or IWF, a non-profit policy research group. The IWF surveyed 2,000 Americans and found 73% wanted the government to take action on a federal paid leave plan, but one that doesn't hit taxpayers hard in the wallet.
"Americans are concerned that this kind of policy be fair to everyone," Stepman says.
A proposed earned leave policy would allow workers to tap into their social security benefits early, while they are on leave and then extend the age at which they would be eligible for their benefits at retirement.
The proposal uses the Social Security Disability formulas already in place and is dependent on a person's current income.
"For somebody making about $30,000, this is between $900 and $1,000 a month," Stepman says.
Parents could receive up to $1,800 a month and , as proposed, the program would be capped at $5,000.
"That helps to pay the mortgage," she says. "It helps to pay the grocery bills. Helps to keep the electric on."
Stepman says the earned leave proposal has broad bipartisan support and politicians have shown willingness to take up the issue.