Monday, June 23, 2014

How paid family leave, as an issue, intersects with gay marriage and gay parents

The president is tweeting about family leave today, and CNN has an important op-ed, “Is paid family leave bad for business?” by Sharon Lerner, here. Of course, there’s another side of the debate that doesn’t get mentioned often:  other workers pick up the slack, and usually don’t get paid for it.  I sometimes did nightcall for those with more family responsibility than I have, essentially working their contingency hours for free (including a whole weekend for free in October 1993 when another worker had a baby).  But I did get larger raises than I would have gotten. 

Lambda Legal has often talked about the problem of LGBT (and single) employees "working for a discount", which can turn upside down; when there are budget cuts, people with fewer family responsibilities who work for less can lowball the "competition" and keep their jobs. 

It should be obvious that this will connect to the debates on gay marriage and particularly gay parents. It also connects to an aspect we don’t talk about much: public policy needs to encourage people to take “risks” to provide for others.   In Europe, paid family leave doesn't seem to be a big deal.  Another angle is that single people may be more likely to wind up with the "burdens" of eldercare for their parents. 

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