March 26, 2021
With momentum growing for a federal paid family and medical leave law, 215 companies sent a letter to Congress pressing for a “comprehensive” new policy. However, the letter failed to express business community concerns about the need to address the impact of myriad existing state and local laws with often-conflicting administrative requirements.
The letter was coordinated by PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States), which was founded and staffed by several activists who have worked with many companies while pressuring others to join their cause. For example, the front page of the website targets certain companies—e.g., "Tell Whole Foods’ Billionaire Bosses to Protect Their Employees and Customers”—while applauding those who have joined the initiative. Meanwhile, the website notes: “[T]he organization in partnership with employees, employers, consumers, and investors has won paid family leave for nearly 8 million at companies like Walmart, Starbucks…and more.”
Observing that “paid leave is good for business,” the organization is urging more companies to sign the letter, stating: “More than 8 in 10 Americans support creating a national paid leave policy and a recent report found that more than 75% of businesses agree that a national paid leave policy would help them be better positioned to weather future public health emergencies and economic crises.”
Why it matters: While many companies are still reluctant to actively support a new federal mandate, there is growing recognition that such a law may be inevitable. However, companies operating in multiple states have become frustrated with their inability to establish uniform paid leave policies amidst the tangled web of varying administrative requirements. Most large companies would be far more willing to embrace a federal solution if it provided some relief on that front.