How Paid Family Leave Can Solve Health Inequities

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paid family leave infographic by ChangeLab
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Latinas and all women have increased their ranks in the workforce by 21.4% in the past 25 years, which is good for the economy.

Latina mom mother and baby daughterBut there’s a big downside.

The United States still lags well behind other “advanced economies” in guaranteeing workers paid family leave, according to the Center for American Progress.

“[In 63.9% of American families,] a mother was the breadwinner—bringing home as much or more than her husband or a single working mother—or a co-breadwinner, bringing home at least a quarter of the family’s earnings,” the Center reported.

To address inequties that rise from a lack of paid family leave, ChangeLab Solutions has developed materials to cover its importance for Latino and all families.

What is ‘Paid Family Leave’?

The new ChangeLab materials offers a definition: “Paid family leave allows a company’s paid employees to take paid time off during a pregnancy, after the birth, during the adoption of a child, or when a family member needs care.”

Paid family leave allows moms and dads to care for very young children, which has proven to yield many health-related benefits for mothers, children, and families.

Federal law requires businesses to provide unpaid family leave.

But many low-wage workers cannot afford to take unpaid leave, so low-wage workers often miss out on the health benefits associated with family leave, according to ChangeLab.

“For example, [paid family leave can help with] increases in health benefits associated with breastfeeding, better mother-child interactions, and decreased maternal and marital stress,” according to their report.

Paid Family Leave & Latinas

The number of Latinas in the civilian workforce has risen 157% in the past 25 years, according to federal data.

“If Hispanic women continue to disproportionately enter the workforce, gender-related differences in labor market outcomes (including earnings, self-employment, labor force participation, and occupations) as well as in family/societal factors (such as fertility rates, maternity/parental leave, and access to childcare, healthcare, and schools) will become increasingly important,” according to the data.

In fact, paid family leave can help promote health equity.

Breastfeeding infographic salud americaFor example, less than half of Latina moms still breastfeed their newborns by age 6 months, according to a research review by Salud America!.

Breastfeeding for 1 year or more resulted in a 47% reduction in obesity rates among Latino kids, and significantly protected kids from becoming obese through age 4, among other benefits for mothers and babies, the research review found.

Latina moms who took paid family leave breastfed for two times as long as those who didn’t

“However, research over the last two decades shows that white, high-earning women are more likely to initiate breastfeeding than women of any other racial or socioeconomic group,” ChangeLab’s materials indicate.

Currently, 20 cities and five states—California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington—have passed paid family leave policies.

Policies should include, according to ChangeLab:

  • An expansive definition of covered employer and eligible employees, so that all employers are covered, regardless of their size, and so the policy applies to all employees irrespective of their salary, or whether they work part-time or full-time.
  • Increased length of leave.
  • Increased benefit amount to make it feasible for low-income employees to use paid family leave.
  • Job protection and no waiting period to increase the likelihood than an employee will take paid family leave.
  • An expansive definition of eligible family members.

“Taking steps to ensure [paid family leave] policies reach all workers, particularly those who are low-income or otherwise vulnerable, creates a benefit that effectively addresses health inequity to promote a healthier future for all,” ChangeLab indicates.

How can you help get paid family leave for Latino families?

Check out ChangeLab’s tools, learn more about Latino income inequity, and check out what MomsRising is doing on paid family leave!

By The Numbers By The Numbers

10

Percent

of clinical trial participants are Latinos

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