At last, at last, the US Department of Labor (and Delivery? ba-dum-ching) has started a push on the subject of paid leave:
The most important family value of all is time together. With the changing nature of our 21st-century workforce, it’s getting harder and harder to balance the demands of the family you love and the job you need. Change has yet to come to Washington, but momentum is growing in the states: So far, California, Rhode Island and New Jersey have passed paid leave laws. It’s time to update workplace policies that are stuck in the past and give more Americans paid family leave – to take care of sick loved ones and newborn children. It’s time for us to #LeadOnLeave.
You have to chuckle at the idea of us “leading on leave” at this point, when we have lagged so far behind for so long. But I understand the hashtag as a framing device: Americans don’t want to do anything unless we can be bravely at the vanguard, waving the sword way out front as others fall in line behind, so, okay, sure, let’s “#LeadOnLeave.” Anything to help us stop pouting on the ground with our arms crossed.
What are these new state laws? Here’s some info about the situation in Rhode Island for example (“an employee can have up to four weeks of paid time off from work without fear of losing their job to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child through birth, adoption or foster care”). Gee, that sounds idyllic. Maybe we’ll move to Provincetown Providence after all.
If you have only yourself to consider, choosing where to live can be a walk in the park, or down the shore, or under an arch, or through some tar pits – whatever suits your fancy. If you shackle yourself, lovingly of course, to another human being, and the two of you with clear eyes and full hearts bring forth new life into the world, well, choosing where to live becomes more fraught. Values shift. Priorities adjust. Apartments that seemed cozy start to feel like “the hole” in The Shawshank Redemption.