Apr 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Gillibrand: National paid parental leave would boost small businesses

Screenshot of Axios' Kim Hart and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on a video chat meeting

Axios' Kim Hart and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo: Axios

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said that federally funded paid parental leave could boost small businesses who would otherwise be unable to offer the benefit to employees, while speaking at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Nearly a million American mothers have left the workforce during the pandemic and women's labor force participation is at a 33-year low. Some of the decline has been attributed to more women quitting their jobs, at least temporarily, to take care of their children.

The big picture: President Trump was the first Republican president to call for paid family leave, signaling bipartisan interest in creating legislation, per the New York Times. The bill he supported while in office was more limited than Democrats' proposals.

What she's saying: "I think companies that want to retain their workforce and keep a positive, healthy work environment are offering paid leave, but the real challenge is it's hard for a small business to offer paid leave on its own," she said.

  • "It's hard to compete with the super successful large businesses that can offer it. And so the reason why national paid leave is such an elegant solution is that it's very inexpensive."
  • "If it's a national program, it only costs two dollars a week for each employee with within a year. That's one hundred and four dollars a year per employee to set aside so they can have paid leave when they need it. And for that employee to match it, it's affordable."
  • "And it's this levels the playing field and allow small businesses to compete with the big businesses who can already afford it. But the biggest businesses that want to retain women, want to retain diversity, want to retain a complex workforce."

Watch the full event here.

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