Well, here’s the other side: to my mind, Travaglini’s proposed paid family leave bill sounds like a well-thought-out and reasonable way to address the difficulty of having kids and retaining a job.
Here’s what the article says:
The other main component of the Senate bill would guarantee all workers in Massachusetts up to 12 weeks’ paid time off to care for a newborn, adopted children, or sick relatives.
That plan, similar to one in California, would be financed by an employee payroll premium of at least $1.50 a week. It would pay employees their full salary, up to $750 a week. Travaglini said, however, that the figures could change.
“If we do this right, we can improve the quality of life for every Massachusetts resident,” Travaglini said. “And at the same time, we can promote a strong, vital business climate.”
As I said (not very graciously — sorry for that) in the comments to David’s post,
You think it’s inconvenient for businesses to have child leave for all of three months, unpaid? … Can you imagine how inconvenient it is for new parents to have to find child care for a newborn? Newborns are very difficult — they don’t sleep well, for health reasons they should be breastfeeding, and the mother is still utterly discombobulated from giving birth. It’s a dizzying time.
If you’re serious about supporting women in the workforce, and serious about supporting families and kids and public health, this bill is good.
Whether or not you have kids, you’d have to admit that raising children is an essential function of a family and a society. But we have still not come to grips with having women in the workforce, and the lack of consideration that we have for new mothers shows how we’re still tied to pre-feminist ideas of the work/family balance. It’s time to strike a new deal, and make Massachusetts one of the easiest places in the country to bring up kids. It even strikes me that this may be something that brings folks back to Massachusetts, perhaps making it more attractive to employers who value highly-qualified female employees.
Yeah, family leave is tough on businesses and co-workers; I admit that. But this is an attempt to distribute the load around more broadly, and more humanely. You can’t expect people to stop having kids, and you can’t expect women to just up and leave the workforce. So, we make reasonable allowances in the real world. And $2.50 a week sounds cheap to me, for the purpose of really tipping the scales back towards women and kiddos.
UPDATE (by David): To clarify the nature of the paid leave program: it is not limited to new kids. It also covers caring for a sick family member, as well as recuperation from one’s own serious medical condition (a form of disability insurance).