After millions of you watched the #LeadOnLeave video and hundreds submitted stories on why paid leave is important to you and your family, Secretary Perez picked up the phone last week to say “thank you.”

Laurie from Austin, Nancy from Chicago and Sydney from Seattle are just three of the many Americans who wrote in to share their story with Secretary Perez. Right now, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave law, leaving us way behind the rest of the world. Paid leave is a moral imperative that allows workers to meet the demands of work while taking care of themselves and their families.

Laurie from Austin, Texas

Laurie and her husband welcomed their first daughter, Ava, in February 2012. Ava was born nine weeks early due to pregnancy complications, and her doctor recommended that she not be sent to day care for at least a year.

I am lucky enough to work for a company that offers paid leave for medical conditions. However my paid leave only covered me until my doctor said I was fit to return to work (8 weeks postpartum) at this point my daughter was still in the hospital. I had to take an unpaid leave for the next 6 months to care for my daughter and deal with her health issues before I was able to go back to work. Having any kind of paid leave past those first weeks would have made the financial hardship we encountered after her birth that much more manageable. As a world leader our government needs to find a way to better support families during what can be a joyous but stressful time in their lives. We can do better.

Nancy from Chicago, Illinois

Paid leave is not just for new moms and dads: it also can ensure working caregivers paid time off to help a sick loved one. Nancy and her young children – a daughter and twin sons – moved back to her hometown of Chicago and purchased a house across the street from her mother shortly after her father passed away. From that moment on, her mom became another caregiver and helped Nancy raise her three children. Nine years ago, she and her mother sold their respective homes and purchased a home together. One year after the move, Nancy’s mom was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.

My mother has had breast cancer for the last 6 years. She lives with me and is 89 years old in her final stages of life. The cancer has metastasized to many parts of her body. It breaks my heart to watch this disease slowly take her life away day by day and not be able to stay home to care and spend quality time with her before the end.

Sydney from Seattle, Washington

With a young daughter and another baby due in May, Sydney and her husband are worried about the added expenses of daycare and the critical time they need to spend with their newborn.

For my first baby I was working for Starbucks Coffee Company and only had 6 weeks of partially paid leave. I was fortunate enough to have some vacation time to make up for the lack of pay but had to take some time unpaid in order to spend time with my newborn and maximize the 12 weeks I was able to spend and still have my job upon return. It is a shame that working mothers aren’t able to spend that critical time bonding with their child without worry about when they need to get back to work to pay the bills. As my husband and I explore a second child we are weighing the options of me even going back into the workforce. With the expense of daycare and the lack of support to be on leave, the pay at work may not be worth it in the end. With the emphasis of all of the health benefits of breast feeding, it makes it even more critical for mothers to be home with their babies in that first few months as that routine is put in place. Even if I don’t end up being able to take advantage of a new nationwide leave policy before we have another child, I hope that the women after me are able to have such a critical benefit! #LeadOnLeave

In a 21st Century Workforce, America’s working men and women shouldn’t have to choose between the job they need and the family they love. On the phone with Secretary Perez, Laurie said it best, “Our story is unique, but it’s not. There are so many more people in my community and in this country who are living this. It’s not just my issue, or a women’s issue. It’s everyone’s issue.”

Now, it’s your turn: Share your story about how paid leave would help your family succeed.




Increase Breast Cancer Awareness in 5 Steps

by Phyllis Borzi October 24, 2014

You probably know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every October there are nationwide campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of early detection and treatment and to raise funds to find a cure. While we know there is still a lot to do when it comes to beating breast cancer, what a lot [...]

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Domestic Violence Doesn’t Always Stay at Home

by Latifa Lyles October 23, 2014

Last month marked the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. This historic act has saved lives, improved access to justice, built critical infrastructure for support services and broken ground in changing the culture that breeds this epidemic. According to the CDC, more than one in three women in the U.S. [...]

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5 Ways to Promote Shared Prosperity

by Secretary Tom Perez October 22, 2014

On Monday, I gave a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, outlining the importance of an economy that works for everyone where prosperity is broadly shared. Even as we’ve bounced back strongly from the Great Recession, too many people are still working harder but falling further behind, struggling to punch their ticket to [...]

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Expect. Employ. Empower. with Data

by Heidi Shierholz and Kathy Martinez October 22, 2014

October marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual observation that recognizes the significant contributions people with disabilities make to our workforce. It also gives us a chance to think about how we can continue to build an economy that gives everyone a fair shot. As President Obama stated in his NDEAM proclamation, “Americans with [...]

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Working Together for a Future of Safe Jobs

by Joseph Main October 21, 2014

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sitting down with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and about 30 business owners and industry leaders representing an important part of the nation’s mining sector to discuss mine safety, jobs, skills and training needs, and preparing for the future. Secretary Perez, the industry, and Department of Labor participants laid [...]

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A Small Business Owner’s Perspective: “A High Road on the Minimum Wage”

by Paul Saginaw October 20, 2014

Editor’s Note:This is cross-posted on the White House blog. My partner, Ari Weinzweig, and I never subscribed to the conservative economic theory of Milton Friedman, that “the business of business is business.” To us, the right to conduct business is earned by being a good corporate citizen — by producing products and delivering services responsibly, [...]

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The Fissured Workplace

by David Weil October 17, 2014

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of several blog posts about a Wage and Hour Division for the 21st Century Workplace. The 21st century workplace in many industries is no longer a traditional brick and mortar company owned and operated by a single employer. As a result, the Wage and Hour Division, [...]

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50 Years of Helping Farmworkers

by Portia Wu October 16, 2014

For years, Julian performed the incredibly hard work of harvesting onions and vegetables at a farm in upstate New York, making only $8.50 an hour. As a seasonal farm worker, the pay was barely enough to take care of his family.  He wanted to make a change, learn some new skills and start a new [...]

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Boosting Wages Boosts Demand

by Frank Knapp October 15, 2014

The biggest problem facing small businesses is the lack of demand for their goods and services. If the Great Recession is technically over and Wall Street is booming, why haven’t small businesses seen a real increase in consumer demand? There’s a simple answer: consumers who are or could be shopping on Main Street don’t have [...]

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