Paid leave and childcare top wish list for working women

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Universal paid leave and affordable childcare and housing would ease the economic strain of the pandemic and get more women back into the workforce, a panel of working-class women told lawmakers at a conference. hearing.

There are no adequate protections in the workplace for women facing family deaths, rising gas and grocery costs, and the growing tide of mental health issues at home. school-age children, the women told the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

While the Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to give their workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, current legislation fails to help working families who still have to pay their bills and feed their families. during a crisis, they said.

“I can’t get sick, I can’t get hurt, because if I do, I can’t work,” said Tori Snyder, a Pittsburgh small business owner. “I never take a day off because that would leave money on the table.”

Democrats and Republicans on the committee questioned the witness panel while simultaneously launching political jabs across the aisle.

Conservative lawmakers doubted the effectiveness of increased public spending as a solution to this problem.

“We’re often told that having a government-mandated paid family leave program will increase the number of women in the workforce, but it’s not so clear cut,” said Kevin Brady (R-Texas ), member of the committee. California’s paid family leave law, which requires a minimum of three days of paid sick leave a year, does nothing to increase the number of working women in a state that has “fewer women in the workforce than 20 other states in the country,” he said. said.

Last year, Ways and Means Republicans worked with their counterparts on the Labor and Education Committee to unveil the Paycheck Protection and Family Choice Act, Brady said in his opening statement. prepared.

The bill would provide incentives for companies to provide paid leave and focus on gaps in coverage, such as leave for low-wage workers. It would also leverage the $50 billion already allocated for child care by targeting those funds to states with higher child poverty rates, while preserving parental choice, according to a summary of the bill.

Democratic lawmakers disagreed that government intervention would be in vain and accused Republicans of ignoring testimony and blaming women for their own woes.

“The United States is the only industrialized country that does not guarantee paid vacations,” said Brian Higgins (DN.Y.). “It is unacceptable.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jalen Brown in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Laura D. Francis at; Martha Mueller Neff at

(Story updated in 8th and 9th paragraphs to include details about the proposed Worker Paycheck Protection and Family Choice Bill. Story originally published June 15.)

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