Paid Household and Medical Depart – A Privilege or Proper?

From Akosua Meyers

Nobody should have to grapple with the question of whether to take time off from work to look after their loved ones, family, or themselves, especially during a pandemic when working parents and caregivers have limited opportunities for outside support to have.

I am a mother of three, my oldest has autism and a variety of disabilities that require around the clock care and intervention. I also take care of my aging mother. I live in a household that is classified as cross-generational.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I found myself with no outside support for my elder, who without it has serious behavior problems like self-harm. My aging mother was in poor health and in need of 24/7 care. And like many working parents with young children, distance learning without notice has become the norm. Teleworking has also become the new normal. The multitude of needs that arose for me was overwhelming. I questioned my ability to be a good mother, daughter, and wife.

In the midst of fatigue and restless nights, I always felt that the only thing I needed the most access to was paid vacation to care for my loved ones. In the past year my need for it has never decreased.

I was able to take time off, both for long and short periods, in order to meet the diverse priorities of care. And when Congress made special arrangements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to allow paid vacation during the pandemic, it added another level of options for me to take the time I needed to to support my family and myself. I had a boss who encouraged me to slow down not only for my family but also for me. It made it clear that I was important. This support and access to paid vacation made juggling small fires seem manageable on a daily basis.

I am not sharing my story for your empathy. I share it because I’m part of a select few who have been fortunate to have employers, past and present, who recognize the value of providing paid vacation to their workforce. These are employers who are not only committed to ensuring that every employee has access to paid vacation, but are also committed to promoting an internal organizational culture that ensures that employees are taking full paid vacation Can use scope to meet their expected and unexpected care needs. The nonprofits I’ve worked for are committed to social and economic justice and understand that paid leave should not be a privilege, but a fundamental issue of workers’ rights that should be fair to all.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the workforce in need of paid leave do not have access to it. Our nation has a history of family vacation policies that have been discriminatory on the basis of race, gender, and class. Fair access in the United States has lagged significantly compared to other countries. Indeed, many industries have deliberately thwarted workers who organized themselves to demand these necessities that aid work-life balance. However, these employers have more than adequate budgets to cover the cost of their workforce taking overdue and much-needed paid vacation.

The pandemic has exposed the biggest gaps and inequalities in our system. It affirmed what many paid medical and family leave organizations and policy makers have warned policy makers about for years – paid medical and family leave are a necessity that has health and economic implications if not offered. One cannot deny the disproportionate harm the pandemic does to low-income people and women – especially black and brown women – who work low-wage jobs where time off means significant wage loss. Far too many have suffered devastating losses because employers have not offered paid vacation or other benefits.

My nursing history is not unique. For some, it’s even the tip of the iceberg. Figuring out how to provide care becomes an overwhelming burden when you are unable to say goodbye to yourself or your loved one from work because of fear of losing your job or missing a paycheck. Regardless of care needs, the thought of providing paid vacation to working individuals, families, and the public should be an economic, health, and safety issue. Putting our trust in any corporation or multinational to do their part to ensure that their workforce has unrestricted access to paid vacation is to toss the can in the street and hope that someone in good faith picks up the can to help To take responsibility of his workforce. Because of this, Congress must pass laws that create a national program of paid family and medical leave.

Paid family and sick leave should not be viewed as a privilege that few have access to as they happen to work for employers who value the health, safety and economic well-being of their workforce. If the pandemic has learned any major lessons, one blatant one was that without paid vacation a significant percentage of the American workforce, including the essential workforce, will perish.

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