The modern workplace is constantly evolving and presenting new challenges to workers. In contemporary times, employees are increasingly facing the ever-rising dual demands from work and family. This scenario requires the introduction of programs that are responsive to the emerging and diverse family needs. One such program is paid family and medical leave, which allows individuals to help with family caregiving or address personal medical needs. In the US, the majority of workers take care of their aging parents or children and adults with special needs. The current policy used in most workplaces emphasizes parental (maternity or paternity) leave, which is insufficiently comprehensive to address the many challenges that American families face. In New Jersey, the current law only requires employers with more than 30 workers to effect the Family Leave Act (FLA), thus excluding employees working in smaller firms. All employees in New Jersey should be given paid family and medical leave because it allows them to take care of their families or address their medical needs, makes them more productive in the workplace, and it contributes significantly to economy building.
This paragraph is about the importance of paid leave to employees as it allows them to take care of their medical needs and look after their loved ones in need. Informal family caregivers are central to promoting the long-term care system in the US. According to Gimm and Yang (2016), over 30 million family caregivers in the US shoulder the burden of taking care of deserving adults in the community. This high number of informal family caregivers underscores the important role of these individuals in the overall healthcare system. Over the last decade, healthcare policies, especially at the federal level, have shifted the focus towards supporting the elderly in community-based settings and at homes, as opposed to the traditional institutionalized care in nursing homes and other related facilities. According to Chen (2016), this change in policy places a huge burden on informal caregivers with family members requiring assistance with daily activities due to the associated costs and loss of work hours. Saad-Lessler and Bahn (2017) argue that over 70 percent of those aged over 65 years require some form of assisted care, which normally comes from younger family members. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all workers benefit from paid family leave to give them enough time and resources needed to support their family members who need their help.
Similarly, this paragraph discusses how paid leave would impact economy building. The lack of paid family and medical leave affects the overall economy negatively. When individuals are forced to stop working or reduce the number of hours that they can participate in productive activities due to the lack of access to paid leave, the economy suffers greatly through lost wages. According to Glynn and Corley (2016), working families in the US lose at least $20.6 billion in form of lost wages when individuals cannot benefit from paid leave. These numbers are conservative because there other underlying hidden costs, such as depressed future wages and billions lost due to lack of contribution to retirement and savings security when people stay away from work to take care of family members. Additionally, individuals and families experiencing income drops for these reasons are likely to depend on public benefits, which places an extra burden on government expenditure. Therefore, it suffices to argue that the lack of paid family and medical leave has lasting negative impacts on the US economy, hence the need to introduce these services in the modern workplace.
In addition, this paragraph highlights how paid medical leave affects the wellbeing of workers and their productivity in the workplace, hence economy building. Currently, the US does not have any federal law requiring organizations to offer paid medical leaves to their workers. The available data shows that when workers are given paid medical leave, they are likely to be more productive in the workplace because their health needs will be taken care of (Nandi et al., 2018). A sick employee will decide to show up at work for fear of missing wages, but he or she will be unproductive. Therefore, companies would benefit significantly by introducing paid medical leaves. First, employees will stay home, get enough rest, recuperate fast, and resume work within a short time, which is beneficial to the company. Second, such employees will be healthy, productive, and committed to their work. Additionally, when employees’ needs are catered for, they are likely to be loyal, innovative, and identify with their organizations, which is central to the long-term productivity, hence the need for paid medical leave.
However, one of the underlying questions surrounding this issue is whether paid family and medical paid leaves have any evidence-based positive results. The available literature from states that have introduced these services shows the many associated benefits. For instance, in 2004, California introduced a paid family leave policy- California’s Paid Family Care Leave Act (CA-PFL) – a program whereby employees access partially paid leave for up to six weeks to take care of their family members in need of health assistance (Saad-Lessler & Bahn, 2017). This policy has had numerous impacts on the wellbeing of workers and society. Data from the CA-PFL shows that paid family leave improves labor participation for individuals across all age groups. Saad-Lessler and Bahn (2017) indicate that after the implementation of the CA-PFL, labor force participation of unpaid caregivers increased significantly by 14 percent according to a survey conducted in 2011. Specifically, women, who are the ones mainly involved in unpaid caregiving, recorded impressive results in labor participation.
However, the opponents of paid family and medical leave cite various challenges associated with these programs. The central argument opposing the introduction of such leaves is that companies will incur losses by paying workers while away from work. The main purpose of establishing any business is to make profits, and thus paying for work not done would imply loss of revenue and losses. The government could give tax cuts as incentives for companies to adopt such policies (McBrayer, 2015). However, any form of tax cuts by the government creates deficits in the annual budgetary allocations, which have to be addressed. As such, the government would have to give tax cuts on the one hand and increase taxes on the other hand in an attempt to balance revenue collection and fund public spending. However, as argued in this paper, the government loses a significant amount in taxes through lost wages when people are forced to quit their work to take care of family members or attend to their health needs. Therefore, the government should look for ways to address this issue comprehensively.
This paper has shown the importance of paid family and medical leave in the workplace. All employees in New Jersey should enjoy these benefits allowing them to find time to look after their family members or seek treatment for their health needs. In the end, such workers become highly productive because they are healthy, both physically and mentally, which is beneficial for all the involved stakeholders, including the government. Therefore, paid family and medical leaves should be introduced in all workplaces in New Jersey.
Chen, M. L. (2016). The growing costs and burden of family caregiving of older adults: A review of paid sick leave and family leave policies. The Gerontologist, 56(3), 391-396.
Gimm, G., & Yang, Y. T. (2016). The effect of paid leave laws on family caregivers for the elderly. Ageing International, 41(2), 214-226.
Glynn, S. J., & Corley, D. (2016). The cost of work-family policy inaction: Quantifying the costs families currently face as a result of lacking U.S. work-family policies. Web.
McBrayer, D. R. (2015). Paid family and medical leave: Research and lessons for the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Nandi, A., Jahagirdar, D., Dimitris, M. C., Labrecque, J. A., Strumpf, E. C., Kaufman, J. S., …Heymann, S. J. (2018). The impact of parental and medical leave policies on socioeconomic and health outcomes in OECD countries: A systematic review of the empirical literature. The Milbank Quarterly, 96(3), 434–471.
Saad-Lessler, J., & Bahn, K. (2017). The importance of paid leave for caregivers labor force participation effects of California’s comprehensive paid family and medical leave. Web.