Enterprise Leaders to Washington: Paid Household and Medical Depart Should not Be Non-compulsory

Business leaders from nearly 200 companies sent an open letter to Congress Tuesday issuing a public call to include and pass a national policy on paid family and sick leave in the next legislative recovery package. The signatories include many prominent founders and CEOs of both growing and established companies, including Pinterest, Levi Strauss & Co, Spotify, Patagonia, Eventbrite, Rent the Runway, Stitch Fix, Rebecca Minkoff, Rothys, Calm, Lightspeed Ventures, ThirdLove, Zola and Honest Company, Goop and more.

A national paid vacation policy would go far not only to address some of the major shortcomings in the U.S. health system exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also to help more women keep their jobs, the say Business leader.

“We joined this push for federal paid vacation law because we believe national action is key to curbing the tide of women leaving the workforce following the coronavirus crisis,” said Jenn Hyman, CEO of Rent the runway, in a statement. If women in particular had the security to go and return – as national policies would allow – their thesis would be that women would not leave the workforce in droves. She goes on to add, “It’s the right thing – period.”

The letter comes at a critical time. March 24th is not just the day of equal pay in the US, the day the gender pay gap is to be recognized in America. Biden’s government is preparing to release more details on their next recovery package. While Biden advocates a broad and lasting paid vacation policy, it is an open question whether they will make it into the final version of the next piece of legislation.

It’s worth noting that an extension and expansion of the existing paid vacation policy known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was actually included in the final auxiliary piece of legislation: the US $ 1.9 trillion rescue plan law. But it’s only temporary. The measure, which stipulates that all companies offer paid sick leave to employees affected by Covid-19, will now end on September 6, 2021. So far, companies with more than 500 or fewer than 50 employees were exempt from participation.

While all businesses are now required to participate, only smaller businesses – businesses with fewer than 500 employees – that use the program can get their paid vacation expenses back through a payroll tax credit during the pandemic. Companies with more than 500 employees have to offer vacation and pay for it themselves.

That’s a good move, but not enough, says Alexis Ohanian, investor and Reddit co-founder, who also signed the letter. “The pandemic has highlighted so many inequalities in our society and families should no longer face the added pressure to choose between their job or looking after a child or loved one,” he said in the same statement.

In addition, business leaders argue: Paid vacation is vital to economic recovery, even as vaccination rates rise across the country. Giving people the chance to recover without worrying about their jobs could help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“Traditionally, the business world has been seen as the main obstacle to getting through the paid vacation program that is needed by the workers with overwhelming popularity and need,” Annie Sartor, senior business partnerships director for Paid Leave for the United States, told the campaign behind the letter. “This makes it very clear that the Covid crisis has changed the debate and that companies are now looking for a federal government that provides paid leave.”

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