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.

 

 

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