Paid time off is a publicity stunt. Most companies know that their best employees aren't going to take advantage of it. And by leaving the policy open and "up to the employee" managers are now creating a different kind of competitive environment, one that encourages taking less time off, rather than more.
This week, Joe Biden said no, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee said no more, while Hillary Clinton endured 11 hours of Benghazi hearings aimed more at finding attack ad soundbites than facts. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan threw his hat into the ring for Speaker, but only after telling his House-mates, "I cannot and will not give up my family time." Bravo! It's a big moment when a political leader says that when he's about to take a big job rather than as a euphemism for being fired. Now Ryan should work to make it possible for all Americans to experience more family time. In the past, Ryan has opposed paid family leave, allowing America to remain the world's only developed country without it. So, as he seeks to unify the GOP caucus, he should also fight for family-friendly policies at a time when the country really needs them.
We may not all bear or raise children, but we all have parents or partners or other loved ones who occasionally need care from us, and we are all susceptible to an illness or injury that can turn our lives and finances topsy-turvy. We all need affordable time for caregiving - and most don't have it.
Many CEOs haven't considered paid leave because they assume it would add cost to an already stretched budget. But in more than 80% of the cases, when employees of an organization are on leave, they are not replaced. Instead, their work is divided among colleagues, deferred, or front-loaded. There is little additional cost to the employer.
Here's the question that must be asked: Why are we questioning Marissa Mayer's personal decision about how to balance her work and family lives when too few people have this option at all? The last time a male CEO was asked questions about how he would balance having a new baby and with work was never.
For a lot of women in this country, the status quo means trying to earn enough for your family while spending less and less time with them. It means living paycheck to paycheck while praying you don't get sick. The political classes of both parties have failed women and working families in this country.
At one point or another, we all will have to separate from our baby, no matter what age they are. That being said, some parents are forced to do this in an unfathomable amount of time. When we look at an average leave being 6-12 weeks of unpaid leave in the United States, for many, that would be a gift.