When my son was born, he spent 13 days in the NICU. I was by his side all day, every day -- spending as much time with him as the doctors and nurses would allow. My singular focus was getting him healthy and doing whatever we needed to do to bring him home. In the moment, work was unimportant. All the emails, unfinished projects, deadlines, and meetings could wait.
That's a luxury most parents can't access. Yet, only 13% of Americans -- and only 4% of hourly workers -- have access to paid leave. I was able to singularly focus on my son because I didn't have to also worry about whether I'd have a job to return to, or how I'd make finances work. In 2009, I started my own company. I'm the boss. Of course I'd have a job to come back to, and of course I'd get paid during this time away from the office.
I couldn't imagine going through that experience with the added pressure of possibly losing my job or missing out on a paycheck for an extended period of time. Becoming a new parent is hard enough. Parents don't need the additional emotional and financial burden during an already stressful time.
Obviously, paid leave is good for families, but it's also good for businesses. It helps attract top talent. It creates a more loyal workforce, which saves money in the long-run. (Check out this fantastic interview with a woman about to take advantage of her company's paid leave policy.) As a small business owner myself who offers paid leave to new moms and new dads, I've done the math: While opponents like to say paid leave is cost-prohibitive, the fact is, it isn't.
We can't wait for our elected leaders to figure this out. Government isn't exactly known for moving at lightening-speed, and we have no idea what a paid leave policy under President Trump would look like. (While Ivanka supports paid leave, the incoming labor secretary does not.)
That means we all bear the responsibility to make paid leave a reality.
Not sure where to start? A blank slate can be overwhelming.
To help, we're curating a "Rewrite the Rules" database. The goal is to compile paid leave verbiage and make it readily accessible to anyone who wants to create or update their policies. To get things started, we are collecting sample policies. Got a paid leave policy? Submit it through this form. Shortly, we'll publish a database of policies, making an array of approaches to paid leave accessible and encouraging decision-makers to be inspired by sample verbiage as they develop their own policies. (Heck, they can even straight up lift words and phrases ... whatever it takes to make paid leave closer to reality for more workers.)
The current rules around paid leave don't account for the realities of today's employees and families. Thankfully, rules were meant to be broken. It's time to rewrite the rules and institute paid leave policies that actually work for today's employers and employees. Let's get started.