An open letter to advocates, business leaders, philanthropists and every day activists working to ensure paid leave for all.

January 22, 2021

Ian Schneider on Unsplash

With the peaceful inauguration of a new president and vice president and the dismantling of the secured perimeter here in the nation’s capital, it finally feels right to say “happy 2021” and express hope for the new year. For those interested in securing a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy that applies to all working people in the United States, this open letter is meant as a look-ahead for paid leave in 2021 and as a guide for those looking to get more involved. …


New Bureau of Labor Statistics Data Confirms that, Despite Flashy Headlines about Employers’ Paid Family Leave Benefits, More than 90 Percent of Low-Wage Workers are Left Behind

Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

Last Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released sobering data on workers’ access to paid family leave as an employer-provided benefit: As of March 2020, prior to the pandemic, just 20 percent of private sector workers in the United States had access to paid family leave provided by their employers to care for a new child or an ill loved one.

Out of approximately 120 million private sector workers, just over 24 million have access to paid family leave — and more than 96 million do not. In total, more than 110 million people in the civilian workforce overall (private…


U.S. public opinion is clear: Congress must fill critical and even deadly gaps left in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act enacted last month, which provides emergency paid sick days and limited paid family leave to some workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Coverage should be universal, according to voters — but federal law falls far short. Under the Families First emergency legislation, about half the workforce is carved out. These are about 60 million workers who are employed by companies with 500 or more employees, including many of the workers who are currently on the front lines of grocery stores


Congress missed the boat in package 3. The next COVID-19 response package must include paid leave for all.

Later today, Congress’ latest response to the economic and health catastrophe caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), and the largest spending bill in American history, the CARES Act, will become law. This law follows the enactment of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), enacted on March 18.

These latest congressional actions will impact millions of workers’ access to paid sick time, family care leave, and unemployment assistance.

Some workers — for the first time, and through the end of 2020 — will…


The president claims he’s an ally of working parents, but if that was the case, he would support the FAMILY Act

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand listens during a news conference introducing the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act on February 12, 2019. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In last night’s State of the Union address, Donald Trump cited paid parental leave for federal workers as a cornerstone of his administration’s action on behalf of working families and called on Congress to take action for all families.

In theory, any call to action in support of paid leave is good. But using those words without the right policy behind it is confusing at best and harmful at worst. There are huge differences between making good policy and talking up half-measures that would harm the very people who need paid leave the most.

Trump endorsed the Advancing Support for…


Tonight’s fifth Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta will be moderated by four formidable women journalists, the first time in this election cycle and only the third time in history that women debate moderators will exclusively own the questioning of candidates. As an advocate for gender equity and equal representation, I should be celebrating and hopeful that this debate will be qualitatively different than the others in terms of the range of topics candidates are asked to address — and I am. But I am also worried about a looming double Catch-22.

First, tonight’s debate must include more discussion of issues…

Vicki Shabo

Tenacious optimist fighting for an equitable and family friendly America. Senior Fellow at New America. Views are my own. Twitter: @vshabo

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store