Advocacy Tool

Paid Leave Sample Op-Ed

Writing an op-ed in your local newspaper is an effective way to get the attention of your community and encourage policymakers to Think Babies on paid family and medical leave.

Use the following sample op-ed to advocate for paid family and medical leave. Be sure to personalize the text and make it relevant to your community! For more information on how to write an op-ed, click here. If you’d like assistance submitting an op-ed to your local paper, email us at policycenter@zerotothree.org.


Example - Support Families: Pass Paid Family and Medical Leave

Today in homes across [STATE] and America, parents and caregivers are forced to make an impossible choice, one made even harder by COVID-19. Do I care for my baby or sick family member, or do I leave them to work and earn the pay we need to survive? This choice has haunting implications for babies, families, public health, and for the economy.

For me… [ADD YOUR OWN STORY HERE IN A FEW SENTENCES. ARE YOU CARING FOR A CHILD OR ILL FAMILY MEMBER? HAVE YOU HAD TO MAKE THE CHOICE BETWEEN SUPPORTING AND CARING? DO YOU WORK WITH OR KNOW FAMILIES WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THIS CHOICE?]

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed emergency paid leave measures, recognizing the important implications that paid leave had for public health. While a sign of progress, those measures were unfortunately only temporary. Before COVID, the closest Congress had come to truly supporting our nation’s workforce was the Family Medical Leave Act almost 30 years ago, offering unpaid time off work and job protection for people who were welcoming a new baby or caring for a sick loved one. That historic legislation was a huge step forward. But even then, it didn’t go far enough, leaving many workers without protection.

Researchers estimate that providing 12 weeks of job-protected paid leave in the U.S. would result in nearly 600 fewer infant and post-neonatal deaths per-year. And that‘s a conservative number. Paid leave is also shown to improve maternal mental health and foster better child-parent relationships. It provides parents the time they need to breastfeed, attend well-child medical visits, and ensure their newborn, infant or toddler receives all necessary immunizations, with long-lasting benefits for their children’s health.

In 2019, 63 percent of mothers with infants were in the labor force. This means that many of those contributing to the economy were also dealing with the physical, emotional, and psychological demands of having a newborn or newly adopted child. Working families do their best to make sure that their babies get the essential love and attention they need in the first months of life and when their children are dealing with health issues. But we know that offering families time off to give children a healthy start in life, without risking financial security, is critical for a healthy work environment, a healthy home environment, and, ultimately, a healthy economy.

For too long, we have asked businesses to shoulder paid leave for American workers. While employers identify significant benefits, including reducing staff turnover and the subsequent costs associated with training and hiring new staff, they cannot do it alone. Currently, 85% of working people in the United States do not have access to paid family leave through their employers. And only nine states and the District of Columbia have passed state paid leave policies, making where you work and where you live the determining factors to whether you have access to this crucial support.

We’re woefully behind when it comes to supporting our nation’s families and children. Paid leave is a proven engine of economic stability and growth that gives today’s workers and our future workforce – their babies – the best chance for success. Now is the time for Congress to put America’s working families first and enact permanent national paid family and medical leave that benefits all families. 

[AUTHOR’S NAME, TITLE AND ORGANIZATION (IF APPLICABLE)]

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