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Nearly 200 companies are lobbying Capitol Hill leaders to put paid family and medical leave atop their agenda as President Joe Biden presses for another multi-trillion dollar economic recovery package.

The group that includes Pinterest, Spotify, and businesses tied to Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow wants Congress to pass a permanent national paid leave policy as part of Biden’s next big stimulus proposal.

“Access to paid leave also leads to better retention, personal health, and improved morale, which contributes to greater stability and viability for our businesses, ultimately helping our bottom line. In short, paid leave is good for business,” the group wrote in an open letter released Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and their GOP counterparts.

Biden is expected to include paid leave in a new set of proposals aimed at strengthening the economy. The businesses making their case to Capitol Hill leaders want to make sure the issue is a priority for lawmakers, according to Paid Leave for the US, which released the letter.

Bringing back women workers

Businesses say the lack of a national paid leave policy makes them more vulnerable during health emergencies and threatens their financial stability. They note in their letter that fewer than 21 percent of workers had access to paid leave through their employers at the onset of the pandemic.

“With an equal paid leave policy in place, we can help stem the historic tide of women leaving the workforce and ensure that low-wage earners and people of color have the time they need to care for themselves and their families,” they wrote.

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Companies that signed the letter include Lady Gaga’s makeup company Haus Labs, Bad Robot Productions (Star Wars director JJ Abrams’ production company) and Goop, Paltrow’s lifestyle company.

“The expansion of paid leave at the federal level will combat this trend of seeing primarily women leaving the workforce to shoulder caregiving responsibilities, like the 140,000 that left in December,” said David Hanrahan, chief human resources officer for Eventbrite, which offers several paid leave policies.

US Chamber reservations

Not everyone in the business community is as eager to embrace a big policy change on paid leave. 

The US Chamber of Commerce might support a nationwide shift on the issue if the costs could be passed along to employees akin to what is done in California. Employers should also be allowed to provide benefits across one national platform, said Marc Freedman, the Chamber’s vice president for workplace policy. 

The patchwork effect of nine states and the District of Columbia offering different paid leave programs has become an “administrative nightmare” for some Chamber members, he said.

“We were in the ‘just say no mode’ for a long time and now we’re in the, ‘is there a way to say yes’ mode?” he said.

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Source:: Business Insider


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