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tv   Hearing on National Paid Family Medical Leave  CSPAN  May 21, 2021 6:04pm-8:02pm EDT

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>> my concern is there's too much speech that we all should agree within the brownout legitimate public debate that has stifled or canceled. set the cancel cultures and expansive term used used extensively and a whole bunch of ranges of different concerns but i narrow it to questions as much as with the shame ostracism and probably more specifically i'm concerned about those areas where people are fired from their positions.
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[inaudible conversations] c good morning. the senate health education labor and pensions committee will please come to order. today where having a hearing unpaid family sick and medical leave and paid leave option to what it would mean for workers and families across the country but i like to think ranking member burr to hold this bipartisan hearing and senator burr will each have an openinge statement in i will introduce
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eyewitnesses and asked them for their testimony. senators will have each five minutes per round of questions. before you begin i want to go to the covid-19 they keep protocols and i want to thank all of our clerks and staff who have worked hard who have helped us all stay safe and healthy. we'll be conducting this hearing following the same covid protocols we have used in the past since committee members are seated at lee 6 feet apart. some centers arkham using videoconference and as we are unable to have a hearing open to the public live video is available on our web site at health. given it guidance from the centers for disease control and prevention and the office of attending physician will be working with senator burr qaeda members and staff going forward and falling to the guidance the next few days will discuss with member offices the senate rules committee and the sergeant-at-arms staff the best way to operate going forward.
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for those in need of accommodations including closed-captioning you can reach out toon the committee and the office of congressional accessibility services. paid leave t is an issue that ie been focused on since i first got into politics when i came to the senate in 1993 the first bill we worked on was the family and medical leave act which provided unpaid leave to workeke across the country. it was a hard-fought victory for families but even then it was clear that dole is a first step and t we have been fighting sine then to take the next one. today we are the only developed country in the world which does not guarantee paid leave. nearly one in four mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth. one in five retirees are forced to leave the workforce earlier than planned to care for an ill
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family member in four or five private-sector workers have no access to paid leave for the numbers are even worse for workers who are paid the lowest wages workers who art disproportionately with women and people of color. 19 out of 20 these workers have no paid family leave and studies show while workers with disabilities may be are likely to need paid leave to care for their own health they are less like a to have it as they are disproportionately part-time or low-wage workers. in this pandemic struck we saw just how costly it was for workers as this is an families in our country. millions of workers were forced to choose between the well being of themselves their co-workers and their families for their paycheck. millions were affected especially women and people of color were forced out of their job because ofth lack of childce options. that'sno a tragedy we cannot
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afford and we need to address. last year at the dawn of his pathetic l comment -- congress provided -- who wasn't permanent and not nearly as comprehensive as it need to be but it was impactful. one estimate shows there were infections at 15,000 a day in april of last year. they learn all the lessons of this pandemic to make sure we are better prepared for future public health emergencies when less is crystal clear our country needs a conference of national family and medical leave's policy. we cannot rebuild a stronger and fair economy if workers are worse to choose between their and their families health or their paycheck. that's why it joins senator gillibrand has long been a champion in this issue in reintroducing the family act to provide paid family medical leave for all workers is wavering to deuce my families
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act so workers across the country can earn paid sick days and it's why i'm going to do everything i can to get the paid leavee posted present i'd oppose an american families plan across the finish line. president biden's proposal would create a national conference of paid family medical leave program so workers can take paid time off to care for a loved one who is ill or has a disability deal with a loved one's military requirements find safety from assault and heal from their own series, so take time to heal from the death of a loved one. providing paid leave is not radical. common sense and it is basic decency and the public health necessity. several states including my home state of washington has taken action to guarantee access to
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paid leave as well past time we make the same guarantee to all families. when i spoke on the senate floor back in 1993 about the need to pass the family and medical leave act i shared the story of a friend of mine or term player told her she could spend time with her son who was diagnosed with leukemia or she could keep her job and not both. that is an impossible decision that no one should ever have to make. while providing paid leave was a step forward then fact that our country amid a pandemic no less people are still forced to choose between the paycheck they need to make ends meet in taking time to care for them selves or their families welcome a new child or even grieve the loss one. unconscionable and it's bad for families working moms or dads or anyone who cares for her family at the disability knows all to
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well. we lose wages in businesses lose workers presented to john or biting paid leave improves employee recruitment retention productivity and morale. overall business performance and profitability and can reduce -- for women and workers of color which is why it's past time to make progress and far past timef we make paid leave to write for all and not a privilege for some. i look forward to hearing from our words is about how important this is and i'm hoping i can work with my colleagues on both sides fail to make it happen. i turn it over to ranking member senator burr. >> good morning madam chairman and thank you for scheduling this hearing. thank you tour winces it is my hopeo is coded -- the guidance continues to evolve we will return to hearings that have witnesses and members here
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in person and i pledge to work with the chairman to accomplish that. as a father a husband to grandfather in the sun i understand the need to balance family life with work life. i supported i believe most people support being able to take time off of work when they are sick or family member sick or after birth or adoption of a child and encourage the idea paid leave for workers. during my time in congress by help andrs bill to earn more paid leave such as the work they did families but the budget which allow private-sector employers and all employees who work overtime to choose between monetary compensation or comp time just like the federal government has. there benefits to providing paid leave. tax ---- attracts talent increas retention
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and increases employee engaged meant. however questions at disagreements surroundav paid leave come is it mandated? the pasteboard? who gets it and for what reason but many of my colleagues have never had a job outside of government and it shows in some of the policies and proposals. it's easy to come up with good ideas until someone else to pay for but as my friend john boehner used to say everyone wants to be santa claus. as we look at paid leave proposals no matter how well-intentioned they can't just say to the private sector now you need to pay for our generous early and ideas. some of her as this is currently provide paid leave and aren't looking for a federal mandate that one a commonsense approach to help them deal with the varying requirements across
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different states. however their others that enforce a federal mandate. i'm skeptical it's a selfless acts and worry that this is a former rent seeking where they are trying to -- most small businesses offer some form of paid leave because most people agree if someone is sick you shouldn't be at work but a mandate posed in a one-size-fits-all policy paid leave for small business can be easily observed that could force businesses to cut jobs and not add jobs. if washington wants to come up with the idea that washington needs to pay for with tax credits subsidies and grants the family medical leave act of 1993 provides eligible workers 12 weeks of leave but it does not have to be paid for.
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in 2017 thanks to senator fischer of nebraska congress provided tax credits to encourage eligible employers to provide paid leave. i supported senator fischer's employer credit as part of the tax cuts contract. this is then extended through 2025. provides a credit for eligible employees a ranging from 12.5 to 25% of wages paid to employees for up to 12 weeks of medical leave. employers must provide 50% of wages. the family's first coronavirus response act of bipartisan legislation supported by bothis sides of the aisle provided businesses with fewer than 500 employees payroll tax credits for paid leave related to covid-19 pandemic are these tax credits have been extended through september of 2021. let's talk about the private
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sector leave programs. they want talent to workers and want benefits for those workers for the private sector as many creative ideas to provide paid leave such as paid time off purchase planst that allow workers to purchase additional paid time off either through flexon credits verse salary reductions with pre-tax dollars. others are providing short-term disability insurance to provide employees income security for time off for injury illness or even pregnancy. flexibility for the employer and the worker makes it work for all involved. state governments are coming up with paid leave plans of their own. for example senator murray's stayed in washington provides a medicallynd program funded throh premiums paid by the worker and
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the employer with the worker playing the larger share of the premium rate small as this is of 250 workers are not required to pay the employer a man. there's a lot of bipartisan interest in surrounding paid leave including the tax credits i party mentioned. we need to remember that we are not good at running businesses from congress. the one-size-fits-all approach does not work on issues especially paid leave still insists so instead of pushing her brilliant ideas with arbitrary decisions made by bureaucrats in washington we should make sure we give businesses the flexibility to help employers make paid leave work. this is an important issue madam chairwoman and thank you for holding this hearing. i look forward to hearing what our witnesses have the save. >> thank you very much. i will introduce today's
6:19 pm vicki shabo works on policy design and strategy to advance paid medical and sick leave for workers and families. welcome and thank you for joining us today. next it like to introduce marcia st. hilaire-finn the founder and owner of early care and preschool in northeast washington d.c. which has been in operation since 2002. welcome and thank you for being here. next mary anne mcmanus is a vice president of healthy benefits of ibm and serves as chair is of the american benefits counsel board of directors. we are glad to have you here today. i may look like to introduce elizabeth milito a senior executive counsel to the nationalal federation of busines serves in her role since march of 2004. thank you for joining us.
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we will go to ms. shabo for opening comments. >> thank you for your leadership on paid leave well before the pandemic again carried and thank you so much senator burr for having me here today as well. how we care for ourselves and one another. i want to touch briefly on paid family medical leave. first paid sick days. in march of 2020, 25% of workers and 70% of low-wage workers did not have a single paid day at their jobs. these are just as surely workers in food service retail janitorial services many the same workers on the front lines of this pandemic is essential workers. for others they are two to three days away from her jeopardizes their ability to buy groceries for a month pay gas and utilities. 7.5 days rest mortgage or rent. for many people struck show
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economic inequality creates help disparities that. multiple barriers and help in educational equity gaps. when covid hit as you mentioned you in her cause for the first-ever paid to time standard committing outlook funds. covid emergency paid sick leave his estimates are provided or that 15,000 -- nationwide but that emergency paid leave requirement for some businesses and some workers expired at the end of 2020 and now we have to note aaronnt t. paid leave evens the virus continues to ravage us in some parts of the world and also here and people need access tova vaccines. access to paid sick leave is associated with preventive health lower rates of communicable disease spread fewer workplace injuries and more efficient use of health care resources and as i prepared for this hearing i will remark
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about the amount of research over the past several years. sick days correspondingly or not associate with negative job consequences business consequences jobye loss price increases were reduced benefits. would allow workers to earn up to seven days that there'll contractors have been obligated to provide and notably since the pandemic hit three new states have adopted paid sick days joining a dozen others in two dozen localities and creating -- get everyone else's but a hybrid time to change adding guaranteed paid sick days for all people. covid brought home workers and families precarious situations where children they care for what a serious family illness strikes in march of 2020 when the pandemic hit one in five
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private-sector workers just one in five had access to paid family leave through their jobs and their huge disparities by 30% ofnd higher wage workers hae paid family leave for just 5% of low-wage workers did. they had access to disability insurance. again we see the disparities replicated and overall these numbers show growing inequality. in the past 10 years paid family leave for high wage workers -- and low-wage workers just to. that's unacceptable. the country's failure to address paid leave as macroeconomic consequences in terms of reduced gdp. cost families an estimated $22.5 billion annually in income or more than $9000 for a typical family who needs sleep which means less money for stimulating the local economies was hardships at individual households.
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last leave produces a mother's earnings release hundreds of thousandsnc of dollars lost in retirement savings. it means more public dollars lost through medicaid nursing homes and more resources and public assistance programs. too often u.s. how can we provide paid leave but u the trh is we are bearing enormous unaffordable and unsustainable consequences with the status quo. medical leave proposal all present a workable path for. they work like models in states including washington and would make a public investment taley for all working t people no matr where they live or work or their job or medical needs. finally fmla know i'm running short on time. the damaged medical leave act provides benefits and covers 56% of workforce meaning more than
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four in 10 workers are left out. this is disproportionally black and latinx workers low-wage workers and now the pandemic coverage is likely to be lower. congress must expand job protection must do so the match any paid leave program so workers can use the paid leave made available in congress must never. paid leave protections that align with today's fmla or replicate the same inequalities and inequities in same disparities we have now. i leave you with us, this hearing is titled with the word working families in it. paid leave for work strengthens people in the work for us promote employee retention allows people to care for themselves and their loved ones but at the end of the day it's about values like responsibility care and dignity it about people like april kimbrough who lost her job and her home when she had to care for her son with cancer. people like you links trinidad who died eight years ago and
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didn't have a sick day and had to work through chemo at a grocery store. he left behind a wife and two small children people like ms. st. hilaire-finn and sara who fell behind on her own payments to provide paid leave tooy an employee. paid leave must be an essential element of economic recovery an. there's no time to lose. thank you. >> thank you very much. we will now turn to ms. st. hilaire-finn. >> thank you members of the committee thank you for this opportunity to testify today. my name is marcia st. hilaire-finn i'm the founder toner of a preschool in washington d.c. and a member of the main street alliance a national network of more than -- launched with two employees my business has three locations by
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the end of the summer. 30 years ago i came to the u.s. with a career in nursing and there were no nearby childcare centers to schedule and provide quality care. early on despite the cost they provided one week sick time in two weeks paid vacation. as a result we have low turnover and their children benefit. even with the business model that relies on -- many small businesses -- small employers
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generally don't have the ability to provide paid leave him there and that's why most support a national paidai leave family program and commonsense national standards. as a childcare provider i know the benefits of letting them play stay home out of the workplace. d.c. was theit second city in te country to pass it and we had -- [inaudible] most business owners support the program once it's in place. i've had employees who needed morere time off with a new baby and two for cancer treatment he
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i covered what i could. after for the paid time off i provided unpaid leave and when needed i arranged for -- on their salary. these employees said they recovered more quickly just knowinger they could take care f themselves. they returned even more energized.rg several staff members took less time because they couldn't afford unpaid leave. it clearly was the right decision. employees paid for their leave. that's why i strongly support paid family medical leave programs. we now have access to a public insurance option with up to eight weeks paid leave to the
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program pays their wages and provides money for overtime while assistingng new temporary hires. the d.c. programs provides an extended family -- which better meets the needs of employees and the public administration of the program -- of small business. .. last fall i had to close one center for ten days to quarantine our staff when we had an exposure. families first was a lifeline. i could've kept paying for staff while they were out all of once because of public health measures that i couldn't help on my own. all families -- challenges and should not be the model for
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permanent paid leave tax credit programs rely on businesses applying for and administering the program. for well-connected business owners with hr services, this can work. but small business like mine does not have the supporte system. public programs are easier for both employees small employers and should be the model, these past years have been one of the most difficult ever for my business and for most small businesses. particularly childcare centers across the c country. have been given a wake-up call. we need investments in our care infrastructure not just the recovery but resilience. thank you for the time and attention l. iue look forward to answer your questions. >> thank you very much.
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>> good morning, ranking member bert and esteemed members of the committee. i am mary and vice president health and benefits at ibm. i am responsible for overseeing global benefits design, strategy and delivery along with corporate health and safety guidance across ibm globally. today i'm here on behalf of benefits council to communicate our support for federal aid leave legislation so that all workers in the united states have access to robust family and sick and if it's. at ibm, recognizing vital role benefits have in the lives of our employees and continue to believe that family medical and sick leave are essential. this past year the covid-19 pandemic underscore just how critical pain leave policies
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are for our workforces health and well-being. particularly as it becomes increasingly mobile and remote. our challenge is not in providing paid time off benefits to our employees. instead the challenges created by the patchwork of inconsistent, state and local laws the speed at which new regulations are changed andnd introduced and the volume of requirements applicable to nationwide operations around the country. ibm and her fellow council member companies all agree we are most successful in recruiting and retaining top avtalent when employees do not have to choose between their careers in caring for their health and families. but due to very state and local mandates, we inevitably have different processes employees to follow in different benefits depending upon where they work. today's policy model does not allow for consistent and uniform benefits for all
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employees. this is. not just the unnecessary cost and admission for burden it's aap model of fundamental fairness and equity for employees. it can be overwhelming and confusing for employees to determine which laws apply and what benefits they are entitled to. here's a concrete example of the challenge, prior to the pandemic and ibm employee in san francisco could be covered by as many as four laws simultaneously addressing the duration and amounts of paid leave available to them or their illness or the illness of a covered family member. the state paid sick leave law ordinance the state pays family leave law, and the federal executive order on paid sick leave. during the height of covid-19, that employee was covered by two additional laws both the
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state and the city's public health emergency paid sick leave law. the challenge posed by having to navigate six or even four different applicable simultaneously is significant employers and employees alike. we recognize that not all workers have access to generous paid leave benefits and s there are challenges for many small businesses for certain types of employers in providing these benefits. the federal governmented essential role in filling the gap nationwide for organizations of all types and sizes can be done while building on employer benefit profile. in our view of federal legislative solution that provides employers a single set of standards nationwide would advance employee equity while eliminating confusion for employees. an cumbersome compliance for
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employers. a federal solution for all employees consistent benefits regardless of where they live or work. at ibm we believe this era of technology and innovation is powered by our employees hard work and creativity. we strive to provide our workforce with the flexibility and benefits they need to do their best work. the best outcome for the american workforce will be a balanced solution as i have described t today. one that allows employers to offer innovative and competitive benefits that are valued by their employees in a consistent equitable manner nationwide. wecu applaud the committee for focusing on this challenge and i thank you again for the opportunity to testify. i look forward towe answering your questions. thank you very much we will turn. back thank you chair murray and ranking member for
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inviting me to it speaknd today. i also think the other committee members and staff who are ince attendance. my name is beth i'm an attorney and the national federation of independent businesses, small business legal center. it's at member driven thatni represents about 300,000 small and independent businesses across the country. small businesses employ nearly half the country private >> sector workforce. businesses that can succeed small businesses and dlocal economies succeed. consider the types of businesses you frequent. pizza parlors, auto shops, drycleaners, hair salon. some have employees that are full-time other starkly part-time for at at- rate. some have both. these are members employ five -- ten individuals. only about 12% have a human resources professional. businesses are often the hr point person. over 50% of members still do
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payroll in-house. i describe our membership to illustrate where the key points of my testimony. there ist' no such thing as a one-size-fits-all policy that works for every business or every industry. i understand the good intentions behind various proposals. sib and its members have long opposed leave requirements for two reasons. in flexibility and cost. your critical to survival the covid-19 pandemic showcase small firms that thrived by innovating, and adapting to the new circumstances. small the pen on flexibility onlyfl do they fail to manage business operations but to establish employee benefits. which include paid time off. the majority small businesses provide flexible mutually beneficial arrangements that
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allow employees when necessary in a fiscally responsible way. small business owners that recognize the value of paid leaves after all small businesses need to retain talent to the extent they can come businesses provide paid leave voluntarily to remain competitive and attract talent. currently finding workers as a number one cited problem for small business owners for backing taxes and regulation. when the primary ways in which small businesses retract and workers is by providing flexible leave policy. the employee and businesses. to the extent small firms do not offer paid leave, this request for reality that some small firm simply cannot financially afford to offer this benefit. if you can only afford to give your workers ten days of paid time off the government mandates sit paid sick leave
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you have five days left for vacation. lead, paid or unpaid is not a free benefit for employees. the unanswered question with a leave mandate who is going to pay there's a cost of these proposals and not all n business owners can afford absorb the cost. small business with a finite amount of resources this means less money available for f wage increases, health insurance and hiring additional employeesit. small business owners typically have few administered staff and little human resources experience. nearly all these proposals paid or unpaid would impose record-keeping requirements including truth tracking approval documentation and reporting. when one stateep considered an paid leave proposal a few years ago the legislative record was opposition for small businesses.
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consider this position from a business owner, we compete in a world market everything the astate or federal government fuburdens more and more mandates that make us less competitive in world market. so now have fewer employees in sensors not enough income after all myy employment i end up not getting paid anything for my family for all the work i do. i could go on and on but the bottom line is that we farmers do not make enough to subsidize the wonderful benefits you like to see employees entitled to. i am workers asking for work and there's plenty for them to do for the high cost of the state requires me to it pay, i have to limit the number i can hire. may seem great to benefit more employees forts the hidden costs are fewer jobs. small businesses generate 40% of u.s. economic activity. the fundamental truth is, we need small businesses to stay live to maintain a healthy economy. after the outbreak of the
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pandemic, small business economy remains fragile and mandated leave laws represent a significant challenge for small businesses. mandates are generally not flexible nor affordable. on behalf of the small business owners thank you again for inviting me to it appear before the committee. >> thank you parade will now a round of five-minute questions of our witnesses. i can ask my colleagues to keep track of your clock and stay within those five minutes. let me start with you, the pandemic has disproportionally harmed essential workers and in particular essential workers who are women, people of color, people who are paid low wages. they face higher rates of illness because they cannot work from home. and many special underll low-wage sectors to not have access to paid sick days and paid family leave and medical leave. based on your expertise, how
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would ensuring access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave impacted workers and the economy during this pandemic? >> thank you for that question. i think the evidence and the answer is clear there would've been multiple effects. first of all for all of us covered would have been reduced but we arty have the families first act reduced coronavirus by 15000 cases per day. even with the law that only applied to somewhere between 25 and 50% of the workforce. imagine those who are at home and did not impact. then a survey after survey from the kaiser the bipartisan policy center shown the number of share of workers it was significant is around 30% who lost a job or left a job because they're scared of getting sick in their workplace. some of thatad office they had to do with ppp but some had lack of access to paid sick time if they got sick. we know that women in particular took on paid sick time, disproportionally both to care for children who were
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out of school antidote the t care of a loved one. that has translated course important to 2 million women who left the workforce and have yet gone back. we know that especially pregnant women during this time face really terrible choices between being able to continue to work in caring for those themselves and health of their pregnancy. do with the new board when childcare's were close? so myriad of problems that could have been solved by having a national sick day in family leave in place. voters knew that. i asked whether national paid leave program would helpm them to the pandemic overwhelming the geordie said yes and there were no divides really across party lines because everybody was affected by this. this the pandemic has been affected for years before, that's why we've seen high levels of support for both of these policies, 70 to 80% with very little partisan division. over the last decade really part >> thank you.
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given successful childcare andor preschool business here in washington d.c. for over 17 years. over the course of that time here, washington d.c. put in place citywide paid sick days and paid family leave programs. based on your experience with the cities paid leave policies, tell us how you believe a national paid to sick family policy affects childcare providers and other small businesses. >> thank>> you common for the question. i think a national program would level the playing field for small businesses. that businesses would not have to charge a premium to afford national paid leave. also i think paidha leave would ensure workers stay home and they are sick. you see phil come to work sick and many times they have to be encouraged to stay home with
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the national paid leave they will know that their staying home to be well and they would not have to choose between their health and a paycheck. also this would also have assessed employees to retain the best and the brightest. like it has been said, most people are looking for a place where they can call home that they know when they come in they can do their best, when they are sick they can stay home and take care of their health. women also show the most caregiving, paid leave would make it easier for women to take care of their needs and returned m to work when they are much better. both programs, paid leave and paid sick leave but also help with the economy. state home and they are sick can return and be functional
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at full capacity providing the best of the economy thank you. >> they give a much for that. senator burr. >> thank you madame chairman. you know, this is fascinating. nobody is opposed family leave. although witnesses speak in favor of it i've heard a couple references to the covid example. it makes me think about the innovators who really responded to something that did not exist just a year end two months ago. those small incubator companies that came up with diagnostic tests, they came up with therapeutic responses. i'm not on but the pfizer's and moderna big company springtime but the small ones that had the flexibility to work with technology. and i wonder if they had this series of regulatory mandates where they have even existed
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then? blwhere they have been able to respond to this? in many cases their employees are made up of employers who have chosen to work overtime because they are trying to make a company succeed. and in some cases they have sacrificed pay for some type of stock benefits. those employees with that company made certain decisions about their finances because they want the company to be successful. that is their livelihood. your business is a great model. you serve a very special clientele. my grandchildren potentially could be there.. i also remembered downstream from you are the parents of these children that are working for a small business that may have been represented and your success is reliant on their job and their employments. and if in fact there employers
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can't stay in business, then who is going to pay you for the childcare they're probably going to miss out on the educational experience of early childhood learning. and so i have got a question, it has been stated today a national plan is the answer. however national plans don't ever seem to be all they intend to be. they do not run so well. look at social security ass an example. a national solution does not necessarily mean new mandates or entitlement programs. a national plan could mean we make it easier for the private sector to do their job such as providing tax credits for coving 199 relief. 2017 survey showed great support for family leave. but most of those surveyed think the employer should provide it, not the government.
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so my question is this, look at the federal government do to reduce red tape or provide incentives to make it easier for employees to provide paid leave benefits? thank you, senator for the question. i think, as i said in my oral testimony, argue is what is needed is a natural solution that would provide a sort of level playingme field for employers and all american workers to have access to paid family and medical leave benefits. but we do think there is lots of room for many components to that solution. we believe allowing employers the flexibility to leverage private sector solutions and a keep doing what they have been doing, i think you mentioned incubator's creative
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incubators, allowing employers to continue to do that is great. we see that there is lots of activity at the state level. that may have a role as well to play. we recognize that not all employers are ibm or not all employers are members of the american benefits council. it may take incentives. that may be another tool in the toolbox to help employers be able to build the types of programs that would need a federal standard. we are in complete agreement. we think it's needed we think all american workers need these types of benefits and we thinkha that building upon what is working today, which is private sector solutions but llhaving a federal standard in place really would be the most practical way to get at this. >> before my time runs out not all states are california to, >> thank you very much.
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small business owners get the same thing amick in theti workplace their parents and caregivers to. flexibility is key. so when considering these proposals we ask you consider the impact that a proposal would have on small businesses, just as congress did c in 1993 when it exempted small employers from the mandate of the family medical leave act. as congress did last march in the first coronavirus response act going to expand the medical leave act. senatorut borough just roughly two you outlined some possibilities in your opening statements which w i thought that it business tax credits were helpful too. there are other flexibility arrangements standing, time those sort of things it can also be helpful and allow employees the time away from they need. >> i think you meant in german. >> thank you will send it to
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senator casey. >> thank youen chair. i want to start by asking consent. madam chair elect to ask unanimous consentt including the hearing record for letters. these letters are from, one is 100 a statement the second is the centered for long social policy statement, american college of physician statement and four, the maternal child health organization statement. these are for from roughly 120 experts organizations and advocacy group supporting the need for comprehensive national paid leave policies. thank you chair murray. i want to start the question of access part i will direct one or two questions to ms. cheviot. the access question, i was struck by one number per there so many numbers to contemplate here in terms of where we are as a nation. but one number kind of leaps off the page when writing a memo preparing for the hearing it's 20 obviously set many
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numbers we can talk about but 20, 20%. 20% is the sense of private sector workers that have access to paid familys leave. now i know were not only time a family leave her tongue but leave generally paid leave generally. just in that one category of paid leave family leave, 20% private sector workers, that is where we are today. i don't think anyone can be and is satisfied with that. want to start this question about gaps in access. there honestly driven by distinctions between what happens to a worker in a low income worker and a higher income worker. we also know that workforces that currently lack access are disproportionately women and people of color as you and others have testified to. as we work to create a national approach to these challenges it is critical these programs reach the
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people they hoped they would reach and are structured in a way that would allow workers to fully take advantage of them. and your testimony you discussed how importantva it is for programs to be designed to encouragee take up and how important outreach to workers and families to expand awareness of the program for if you could talk about that number one how to design paid leave programs and secondly how toam conduct public outreach to best ensure workers who need them most will fully utilize it? >> absolute thank you for the question senator casey. i too remain very compelled disturbed by that figure to go by the 5% for low wage workers it's only gonnaen buy two percentage points in the last decade. k severe question enough in the state programs there are now ten, seven are in operation. we know there are better ways to design this program the newark programs washington state the district of columbia
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massachusetts, and others all have higher wage replacement for low age workers they can afford to take the work that's needed. employment p protections talked about the fmla but that doesn't disproportionately carveor out workers of color, single parents, particularly in light of the pandemic that will be the case. the family's first act which is the ability for small employers to deny leave to their workers their parents who needed leave that accord to the health and human services department disproportionately excluded single parents and low-wage parents as well. so we need to make your job protection is in place. we need to make sure ages are high enough that wage replacement is high and if we need to make sure leave taking is on a gender equal basis. minutemen will take paid leave especially when has w substantial income outreach and education question we learned a lot about the design
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of forms to make sure that application processes are clear; see do america project on that and others have as well. we need to make sure that there are resources available outreach to both employers to understand why these are beneficial to their workers and them as well as outreach to workers their cuny based organization help centers and others. with the state paid leave overuse of these programs there's underuse it's often because the very workers who benefit do not know they exist. and lastly on this point of business that's come up study after study from california, new jersey, rhode island and now new york show that actually businesses, small businesses those under 50 are overwhelmingly supportive. they have benefited, they say it's easier to navigate the long leaves employees might need when they need them for we know a lot a lot of work to do to help those 80% of
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workers who do not have access to paid family leave. >> thank you very much i will submit a question for the record it will focus on the benefits to children, to older workers as well as people with disabilities. thank you for the time. >> thank you, senator cassidy. >> thank you all. again i've been monitoring to other committee hearings if i'm asking something that someone has asked i apologize. i gather you would finance your paid leave with a payroll tax. now, what we have seen in some states is google in california is providingvi a benefit and when california comes in the state and provides a benefit, alt google does is pull back upon their contribution and allows the state to pick up that which formerly google paid for.
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onnet the patient, i'm sorry my doctor was in this way the beneficiary does not get any more money is just that which was formerly paid by fortune ten company is now being paid by taxpayers, any thoughts about that? >> i'm so glad you asked the question on states that have adopted paids leave programs not seen the benefits be reduced. the tech giants have led skews me n onnet does a beneficiary get the state plus that what they were formally getting from the business? they don't drown the state program at all. >>y is not what is told by
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others on another committee hearing that there is a reduction in the amount the company puts up. subtracted by the amount that the employee would receive from the state programs. are you saying that is not true or that you are not sure about that? >> which should look into that i can get back to on that. spencer testament is senate finance committee last year which establish that for, we can reference that, i say that because again the payroll tax that you are suggesting would be highly regressive. but also i been thinking a lot about how do we bail out social security and medicare if you need to expand payroll tax to bail out those two programs, and a sense you cannibalize the capacity to do so by already raising four new mandatory benefits what thoughts you have about that? >> it's true the state programs are financed through payroll taxes that is one
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model for congress as well. there are other forces on the table right now. i think the state experience has shown this very small payroll taxes that are levied on employers are both come back workers and employers prismatic right now the payroll tax on the employee for medicare is like seven and a quarter in equal amounts on the employer. i gather what you are suggesting though with the increase of that amount. so it has been very hard to raise seven records 8.5 for example with a total twice that if you flew the employer's contribution. how much do you imagine would increase payroll tax if payroll tax was the funding mechanism for plan such as yours? back the actuaries last year looked at the bill. that estimate be .62% payroll
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tax increase. less than one per >> >> >> social security actuary said it would be total .62%. which is very consistent with hewhere the states are in terms of their payroll taxes. that includes having social security be the wage base. >> social security capping what? >> the wage base. you can bring it down even further by using the medicare captains of the social security cap. >> to my question of whether you were catalyzing our ability to address the shortfall in the medicare and social security funds which are going bankrupt within five or six years or ten years depending on which funds were talking about. this is a clear and present danger if you will. do you feel as if that the amount were putting up this new mandatory benefit would not impede the ability to further raise payroll taxes to
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bail out these two programs? >> i don't think so. we'll look at people have higher wages higher workforce participation higher revenues coming into trust fund and medicare as a result of higher medicare people working. >> soon to censor dynamically scoring imagining there would be, despite raising taxes there be even more employment even though typically you have less employment because they think increase in - productivity offset the increase in taxes. >> yes here we are replacing the income of people who are ngworking on getting them back into the workforce. we arerc enabling jobs for people who might have to leave work otherwise but i think this is a different case. i think the question is how can we afford not to do this? if we were to finance through payroll taxes to be small costs are big but especially for the 80% of workers who do not have family family leave righth never >> thank you madam
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chair would say bye does concern me that if google and other big companies are currently providing this benefit by increasing or having a mandatory federal benefit that would allow them to offload their obligation on the federal taxpayers. not the least of which would be a huge company. but that i yield back, thank you braced >> senator kaine? >> thanknk you chair murray and ranking member vern thank you to all the witnesses this is a really important topic. to begin i have three letters for the record elector introduce. the first one the second is for catholic social justice and the third is a interreligious working group on domestic needs.
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>> where prepping for the hearing i asked i my staff find out what were hearing from virginians about this. on to offer up some thoughts from them. she was offered for six years to take time out of the workforce to care for her two young children. thenrt she started back to work after six years herft youngest child kept getting sick because she'd never been in a daycare setting before them. kelly tried to negotiate with your employer flex schedule, work from home, she was denied. she is forced use upper limit of personal time off which quickly went -- which went very quickly because of her children's varies illnesses including state local emergency center. as a prospect rose had to take unpaid leave she was laid off from her job. jamila and fredericksburg became paralyzed during underlying health condition right before covid it.
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she was employed full-time she was able to go out on short-term disability but she ended up being hospitalized for over seven months and was in aha wheelchair when short-term disabilitydi ran out her job was not able to accommodate her she applied for and implement but was deemed ineligible for it or has mccain her primary caretaker in the absence ofce paid leave, he used up his paid time off and all the extra unpaid leave to get her to all of her doctors appointments. now they're behind on mortgage payments, their son had to drop out of college, depleted most of their savings. she has been looking at to get new job that allows her to work from home. she isbl now able to walk. but she still faces serious annoying health issues. a different take on this is a mandate for the most part she did not lead paid sick leave self but for other people because she worked in restaurants and bars. doctor should fevers, cold, strep throat, any of the other unnamed infections because she did not have health insurance
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during some of those years so she did not go to the doctor lesser imminent threat to her life. at her job makes t, rules silver, serves food, pores drinks, made dessert if it's going into your mouth across your face, i had my hands on or near it. working well she was sick was less detrimental to her than unpleasant and even dangerous with people she served. and finally lee, i'm his husband randy from alexandria were on vacation 2018 when lee noticed lower back pain went to see an orthopedic surgeon. first the surgeon recommended physical therapy but an m arrest showed a tumor, kicked off a flurry of hospital visit scans employment with specials in the a hospital. in the aftermath had a heart attack due to a blood clot. the goodness is both lee and randy had paid family leave it there employers they were able to take care of their health
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without worrying about losing their jobs but these are just four of the many stories that i hear. two are about a lack of paid eahealth leave causing some to lose her savings, lose their jobs one is lack off paid health to go to work sick and potentially endanger others for the fourth is a goodorck nes story about what paid family or paid sick leave can do. my understanding i will direct this to you, the u.s. is the only country that does not have national paid leave according to 2014 international labour organization report out of 185 countries and territories was available information only new guinea and the u.s. did not have national policies provided paid maternity leave. unpaid sick leave the u.s. is the only the high living standard of calculation that means about a national policy paid sick days.
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what is it say about our values and we are so out of step with nations around the world that think it is good for workers and also good for the people they serve to not have to come to work when they are sick? >> this isn a question about economics is also question about use. we talk about how we care for ourselves we come through an unprecedented pandemic with the care for oneself and one's loved one could not be clear part yet 80% of workers do not have paid family leave, 70% of low-wage workers do not have a single paid sick day. and we are outlier as you have said. the paidai maternity paid family leave and paid sickly. >> thank you him over time i yield back. >> senator romney. thank you madam chairman. a number of republicans, senator rubio myself of introduced legislation that
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would provide for paid maternity leave. but do so without imposing new costs on taxpayers or employers. in our case we allow people to draw from the social security fund and then to pay that back through lower benefits down the road at a time when they are less in need of the funding. you note this is not a big increase. but for family earning $60000 a year, it is $400. that is a big increase for that family earning $6000 a year. seems like a small percent because government things about raising taxes it's a small% for us but a substantial change in thehe living standards, why not consider measures that would allow us to provide paid
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maternity leave that do not place additional tax burden on employers and employees? >> estimate question is for me. thank you for the question thank you for your interest in the issue. i have looked at your proposal and appreciate the contribution to the dialogue. a couple of concerns i have, first your proposal would cover just leave for new parents. which is only 25% of people who need access to paid leave any year. most people use it for their own serious health issue. another 25% or needed to care for family member who is sick. on the merits itself of the policy while i appreciate the keintent, what will happen is those workers who choose to take paid leave when a child is born will have to work longer and they will take a lifetime benefit cut. so the amount we are talking c out the small contribution you would make under the family act model would help those families who would otherwise lose an average of $9000 when
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they need to take a paid family medical leave their access to family benefit that would allow them to take leave for multiple number purposes. two,o, these are the very same people, women inla particular low-wage workers have lower lifetime social security, lower earnings which means lower social security benefits. these are the very people cannot afford a lower social security benefit when they get to retirement. they may be very physically taxing job so they're not able delay taking their social security benefits when they get to retirement. again i appreciate the intent. i worried the very same people who are going to need paid leave when they have a new child are also people who will need more robust retirement w security when they get to that part of their lives. i do not think we need to ask those people to trade off against themselves. i think we can create a program forat its >> and can add to their working life as opposed to their retirement at the same age but a little
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longer period of time. the challenge of course is if every problem we deal with this simply by raising taxes, we end up burdening the american taxpayer. we violate the presidents pledged not to raise taxes on people earning under $400,000 a year. and we depress the economic growth that allows people have good jobs and rising wages. with regards to childcare and the need for kids to have childcare, broadly speaking with regards to childcare there seems to be a significant bias towards providing childcare and pre-k education and so forth. which encouraged ifnc you will women and men going into the workforce as opposed to saying hey if one of you wants to stay and raise the child that
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is acceptable too. it does seemed like the administration strongly prefers getting kids out of the home and getting of both parents into the workforce. i understandnd there's an economic reality to that or advantage to that. he had a also gives a developmental advantage to a child if a parent's want to have one or both remain home to raise a child and they is a childbearing advantage that as well. are you concerned? ti guess i'm going to directly to the member of this panel that is responsible for child care, are you concerned that too much focus on federal mandates actually may be detrimental to the effects of children who may be raised with the intensive involvements and investment on the part of the parent or one of the parents for that child? >> thank you, senator for that question. yes, i think two things here.
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one children develop better in an environment for they cany engage with others besides her family members. they can develop social emotional q will allow the parents to go to work and not have to worry about the child falling behind by the time they're ready but >> let me interrupt you your first point was we make sure i understand, you believe it's better for i a child do not be in the home in their neighborhood with parents let's say a 3-year-old or a 4-year-old child, they are better being in a professional childcare center approved by the government than being inn their own home and neighborhood? >> it is more beneficial for oricthe child. children learn better in a setting always this family. [inaudible] >> i did not realize i was at a disadvantage because i was raised by my mom whose was astated home.
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what you describe is a perspective on the part of thef administration which i find contrary to personal experience and t contrary to the perspective of many parents. i would think that as we think about the policies we want to have regards to childbearing the parents to make that decision as opposed to itpp administration to make it for them. >> yes, again parents are the firstt teachers childless with the family of the family is not allowed to do that it's greatly beneficial for a child to be in a setting where they can get support to develop their social, emotional and coordinates skills. i know we do not. [inaudible]
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they care about parents responsibility. it helps foster that child's development better than just being with a parent. >> senator, >> thank you madam chair and ranking member burkhard thank you tour witnesses all of you for being here today to discuss a really important issue. expanding access to paid leave would help families across the country bounce needs at home and at work. madam chair come before start my questions at the l unanimous consent to enter into records letters and three advocacy group supporting paid leave. speak without objection. >> according to a report by aarp and the national alliance for caregiving, more than 21% of adults reported caring for an adult or a child in the previous 12 months for the majority of adults who have both a job caregiving responsibilities reported
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making at least one change of their employment such as cutting back work hours taking a leave of absence likely to only grow as our population is aging. interesting you askeded this question in the national bureau of economic research saying that when on a has an injury cannot be working anymoreit for caregivers. that is consistent withh california as well labor force impact for caregivers have access to paid leave both the short-term and long-term. sophie think about it this way, you are in a family there is a serious health condition, your child m m m m m have a disability.
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your child might get sick, it might have o cancer. you need to be able to be there with them in the hospital per the child to recover faster, or the person a special needs because the extra care they need. the person who is ill will get better faster by their fewer medical complications and the caregiver can either geteli back to work or if long-term care is needed they can help find a paid caregiver, that is another peace of the economy we need to pay attention to. that paid caregiver to help. these are families, these are people who are working class jobs, low-wage jobs for the drink everything he can to put food on the table to keep paying the rent. paid leave is a support that helps that. it helps people be independently independent helps them to have highere earnings overem time. i is beneficial to care recipients, businesses who don't have to bear the cost of turnover, who do not have to look for new w workers and the economy overall. >> thank you. on to follow up a little to discuss today caregiving obligations this proportionatey
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fall two women and can impact of women in the workforce. this has been exacerbated by the pandemic for the mill t women who left a work still out of the labor force in new hampshire in estimate of 15000 workers remained out of work in march because of caregiving responsibilities. can you discuss how access to paid leave in two or more women are able to participate in the workforce?y >> absolute this is an issue so long before covid ill an issue pascoe had. women in particular we are disproportionate caregiving lifoactivities for children and older adults. i'm really concerned about and looking at is we have now had this period of time where the gender norms of caregiving have been reinforced by that pandemic. wage gap, cultural norms, expectations, dynamics within families of disproportionate caregiving duringg covid. women have provided carrots interesting survey data that's
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come out recently on that. that disproportionally left the workforce are cut down on their hours print concerned about the biases that think it reinforced as employers are thinking about hiring, reinvigorating their workforce, what is that mean for their hiring decisions? what are the biases they then bring as a result of this pandemic? access to paid leave is gender equable help to mitigate some of that. help to mitigate the cost employers might fear. i think we have to look really carefully at this. retail, hospitality sectors are bringing women back on and lower proportions toom their share of the industry workforce. >> that is helpful thank you. widely available to adults, some workers have cited their lack of access to paid time off the reason for not getting the vaccine. grlet us make congress included employer tax credit help cover
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the cost of providing this leadtime in the american rescue plan. can you explain the importance of access to paid leave without getting the covid 19 and how the recent tax credits will >> appellees to expand the purposes see the administration doing outreach to small businesses to make surere they know this tax credits are there for them. at the worker does not have a paid sick day and 70% of low age workers not 25% of overall workers don't they may not't have time to go get a vaccine for they certainly might have time to go deal the side effects that we hear the second dose especially provides. if you are fearful about gettinge that vaccine you continue to be exposed in your workplace you might continue to put others at risk. this is a public health imperative thatra businesses are eligible for the tax credit use it. other businesses give workers paid sick days for their vaccination respect senator tupper built.
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>> thank you madam chair. as we come out of this pandemic small businesses are in worse shape than they have ever been. a lot of them are hanging on by a a thread. they need every bit of help they can get from the federal level. why is now the time to add on another federal mandate for small businesses who are alreadyy struggling? >> thank you, senator for the question. i have done all they can to keep their employees safe, their customers safe in their communities safe. goodchild the small business owner helps himself to they played a critical role in helping get the coronavirus under control. they shut down their businesses a lot of them. offering leave whether mandated or not was the best way to protect their employees and their communities there. they are now once have been being called upon to play a
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role in encouraging their employees to get the covid vaccine. on we are doing all we can to educate our employees about that. but it is a huge challenge.le senator casey talked about the public outreach. and the employer outreach is so important. our survey show claiming this tax credits it all sounds very easy and very nice. but the reality is it's not. 70% of business owners did offer their covid leave only 43% claiming tax credit. the reason is it's complicatede. it's a hassle. inthe irs is now woefully behind in issuing reimbursement. these were small businesses that were promised money and now almost a year later some of them still not received the reimbursement. again it sounds easy, but it is incredibly difficult.
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again small businesses by and large have flexible paid leave benefits because it's the right thing to do. they continue to do that throughout the pandemic. >> national paid leave program is another huge step though. why can't states decide on a paid leave program that works for them? >> that is a great question two. for larger employers i can understand and supporting a national paid leave policy. but talked about the benefits of employers paid sick leave in rhode island, those are just three states their blue states and replicating with those statesep are doing at a national level is just unworkable. sadly in our country right now with a another national federal entitlement program is just something we cannot afford to do.
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something with our members would not support. the overwhelming support for paid leave programs, but when you ask how they're going to pay for it, the support drops dramatically. kate essay from 2018 shows just how much it drops when he asked about the trade-off higher payroll taxes people do not want that. >> thank you, we certainly appreciatepp your insight and alexperience dealing with this position from a large company like ibm. how the same policies play out in a small businesses versus a large corporation? >> thank you, senator for the question. i think the issue for the large employer they tried to articulate is that we are in multiple states. it is a normatively difficult for us, ibm, a technology company to keep up with the rapid pace of the legislation
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that's happening at the state and local level. and frankly we want to provide a benefit that is uniform to all of our employees. it should not matter what state you work in. from an ibm perspective and from the american benefits council perspective, these employers want to be equitable and fair to all employees. and frankly it is really challenging for employees. as i articulated in my role, testimony may be covered by many, many different laws. that leads to an optimization in terms which nobody wants. they have very generous they may not be using their benefits to the best of their abilities is too confusing to i them. we recognize that small business has a different set of challenges.
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we actually go back to the fundamental need of all american workers to have a level of protection for their own medical leveraging on what's working now >> we keep going to about social security a little bit. social security's almost broke. we have overspent it. we have not been very diligent with it. our hope that we really consider taxing the american people and taxing enter small businesses in a very tough time, thank you very much basement senator smith. >> thank you chair murray and give member burr and evan on the panel today. such an important topic. i'm really grateful for the
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chance to hear you all are saying. i'm going to direct my questions this is what i want to talk about. so earlier this year i had interesting conversation with secretary yellen about how we grow our economy looking forward. what impact workforce has on our competitiveness. the current economic environment, she pointed out something really interesting. women's workforce participation, the rate is been higher than in europe until recently when we begin to fall behind. in one of the major reasons were falling behind in workforce participation is because of a lack of national paid family leave policy in the united states. as we discuss this, we were
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talking about it and issue of international competitiveness. could you talk a little bit about this. do you national paid leave policy on her overall competitiveness. >> app so there many, many studies out there many analyses showing workforce participation loss of five and a billion dollars u.s. economy that predated covid. conversely if we had a national paid leave program and other policies that promote mckinsey estimates we could grow by 2030 of the put policies in place now. aarp showing wicked add to gdp if we support family caregivers. i was too there's some overlap in those two modeling.
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to show that the bottom line is yeses our labor force participation had been dropping prior to covid. our women's labor force participation is nearly 40 year low. with women's labor force at levels not seen since the 1980s. obviously some of this be alleviated as the pandemic ends but we have to solve this problem with the want to have the kind of competitive economy in the global marketplace. :ba : his question is an ab tract question all across this could be the service sector and healthcare sector, this is the story across the board. i've heard some of our panel, my
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colleagues suggest, paid family leave policy proposed in the health families act that we can't afford. two expensive. how do you square the argument with this issue we are talking about. >> i think there's no data to back out any of these arguments paid family leave operates a little differently but with respect to paid family leave, we know the certainty created by workers having access to paid leave benefits both workers and especiallylele small employers. we know in states that have a contributory contribution model that creates predictability and certain to for employers so they can mitigate costs so theyla can hire placement workers if they need with respect to paid sick days where there is a direct cost to
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providing current benefits to workers a few days a year times, there's no evidence from any state or city thatco this is contributed to job loss or inflation or reduction of other benefits so i understand the theoretical concern but these are not born outside the data we have a decade or more of experience with these policies. this idea that blue states are somehow different, it doesn't really pan out when you look at states with large economies paid leave, too. >> i was once an owner of a small business myself and i can appreciate small businesses are different than large businesses but i also can appreciate it's almost impossible for small business to try to solve this kind of a problem on their own if they want to offer paid family medical leave and that's why i think solutions like the family act for the right solutions, it's chilling when you think about traumatic equity less than one in three having
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access to a single paid sick days while high wage workers in this country and the private sector, 94% of them have access to paid family medical leave, it demonstrates in equity here as well. >> thank you. >> thank you, madam chair. interesting question because running a small business for so many years and the idea of paid family leave makes sense, i think it's another thing if we could afford to do it, it would be nice to have and i can see the proposal currently out here doesn't sound like a lot currently i think employers, employees split the burden of social security and medicare 7.65% each, 15.3. this adds a small percentage but
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my question, since the merits of paid family leave is not, in my mind, that debatable, it would be nice if we could afford it, it does begit the question thatn the drivers currently of payroll taxes, social security and medicare, five and a half years before the medicare trust fund is depleted, with an paying into the the 60s and social security trust fund i think has 12 to 13ot years but to me you probably wouldn't even need to put any more burden on employers and employees if you could just bring those two programs into some type of the school order. healthcare for instance, we can
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gain the most dividends if we just embrace competition, transparency, get rid of the barriers and entry and engage healthcare consumer, you could bring that trust fund probably back into it quickly. social security we know the variables there, too. you're going to need to probably raise the age in which you're going to be eligible for its. don't think you're going to get many people wanting to put heavier burdens p on employers d employees. my question is for ms. melito, what you think through the eyes of the nfib on the subject matter of paid family leave, what do we do with the two big issues in the room, where is it on addressing social security
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and medical costs? it's going to make the rest of this moved soon. >> thank you for that question. certainly the liability social security is something our members have less concern about. that is why they are very concerned about any additional taxes or burdening social security system anymore, that would essentially be depending on the proposal, a new mandate. we all want it, it's nice to come up with these robust benefits, i think one of the witnesses called them there but the reality is that not all businesses can afford to offer the same benefits and it sounds nice but they can't do it. most do because it's the right thing to do and that's hows they retain and attract the best. they are competing and it's hard
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to do but they are managing to do it. again, a big part of our economy is small businesses so we need to consider small business is and a new mandate would have on small businesses both employers and employees. what is it for small businesses and their employees watch? i was talking to a business owner last week, he's desperately trying to hire new employees. his candidates are looking for money. it's about money, i don't think it's necessarily coming in asking for paid family or paternity leave, not that they are not benefitsbe but right now we he's got candidates asking for top dollar, that's what they want. what's your bonus? maybe they are asking about vacation but not -- >> before we run out of time, i know it's behind transparency,
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ideas on healthcare. when it comes to social security in terms of testing, raising the age of some of the more difficult questions and we've got more time for that, is there any position on what to do with it. >> we be happy to study any proposal and we get back to you on that. >> if we can't grapple with that discussion, to me it is moot points on any of the rest. it's good ideas that would be ignoring what's going to occur with those trust funds soon. >> thank you. >> thank you, chair marie. i appreciate this hearing, thank you for being here. i want toll talk about making pd leave work for small business owners because that's the crux
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of what we have to do, that's what all of these conversations boil down. please you could join us today, i love that you could join us with your views. as the mainstream alliance, an organization of more than 30,000 small businesses, myself, i'm a health committee but also the small business entrepreneurship committee and i represent nevada or small businesses make up over 99% of businesses in my state so i think it iss critical we bring workers and small business together to t find solutions tht provide real relief for working families particularly as senator smith talked about the labor force, is concerning that we lose women talent inn the marketplace. as noted support for the healthy family leave legislation, i'm proud to be a cosponsor of the.
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as a small business owner and number of small business advocacy groups, can you tell s more why you think the approach in this specific bill will work well for small businesses? >> thank you we need common sense standard like the health and families act to ensure all employees have access, paid sick time for the job. also we don't see days workers show up to work sick. long-term stay home or lose their job which cost the economy as well. the business minimum work or minimum wage. we will all benefit. also,be studies show paid sick days, policies in place, small
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businesses can adopt and support the program. >> thank you, i believe all of our communities have the backbone for everything in this country, it is our families and how we care for them so it is really important so what you think the federal government, how can we provide more useful resources for small businesses about offering paid leave policies, maybe the fda or department or the labor? >> small businesses extra help finding out about these programs, small businesses have no hr department, unlimited resources, we need to reach small businesses, advance of programsou being watched. i found the families first mainstream alliance, small business organization should be
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part of this effort. this will help small business compliance and also help ensure more employees find out and can apply for the program. >> thank you, i appreciate that answer. i'd like to turn to some of the benefits, i'm going to direct this to you and senator smith we grow by over $2 trillion if we have women reenter the workforce so i know this is going to be important. pleased to see thepl council, yu have a statement on the principles of paid leave and many of your members provide paid leave to their employees and ize recognize and appreciate the number of employees in this country really doing their best to keep the workers and their families, their communities safe and healthy, i'm glad you brought this perspective here today. can you tell us about the
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benefits your members have seen from voluntarily offering paid leave benefits especially during the pandemic? >> absolutely. thank you, good question. ibm has had a long history of developing programs to help employees better manage their work and family and personal responsibilities. we think that is key to having an engaged and productive workforce and i think that's a shared vision for the company's as well. ourr programs will offer solutions around care, medical care, care to take care of family members and i would bring up, as you did, the pandemic, we have had to quickly enhance our tactics in public health emergency to provide for backup
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care, for example for parents or children or elderly or other relatives who need care and the caregiver could not be available. what we saw, which was quite dramatic, we measure engagement all the time and what we found was our engagement went up by three percentage points in one year end that was the year when everyone was traumatized with the public health emergency. why? they felt supported and when they feel supported and we are engaged, are better at their jobs and that is good for american businesses. >> thank you, my time has expired. that's a great note to leave it on. workers have families, too. thank you. >> thank you for holding this hearing to discuss the importance of expanding access to paid me for families and
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thank you to our witnesses today are making is also available. latinas are 50 cents and native american women's 60 cents for every dollar paid, this high cost in our nation, especially for unpaid time spent out of the workforce. the u.s. offers little support for working caregivers, especially paid family and medical and sick leave. a national policy not only for the wage gap but boost and recover from this pandemic. what a federal pay the policy help close the wage gap for women? >> great question, these issues are so connected. women are more likely to take leave if they are in a two parent family or part of a larger family male siblings and
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female siblings because of the wage gap. that means lower earnings over the lifetime, there's an inextricable link and would close the wage gap if we had paid leave particularly for latino. >> you stated in your testimony that critics spending focus on what paid family medical leave will cost rather than art in society, how many women have lost jobs at the start of the pandemic? >> 4.5 million women have lost jobs over all and 2 million still have not returned to the workforce. >> you also state paidd leave would strengthen our economy and according to the national partnership for women and families, how many jobs could the u.s. add to the labor force by enacting national paid leave with affordable healthcare? >> i believe we could add 5 millionn jobs. paid leave and childcare our job creating, enabling and enhancing
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and that translates into increases for the whole country as well as greater economic security in retirement security for families. >> you mentioned gdp, nationally, how much could we add to our economy if this policy were in place? >> pre-pandemic, estimated 500 billion. along with other interventions to help close the gender gap in occupation andtend work, estimag $2.4 trillion so we are leaving a lot of money on the table by our unwillingness to enact these policies. >> appreciate that, thank you for your responses. national paid sick days and family medical leave laws would enable millions of families including native americans, do not have to choose between health and a paycheck. i'm a proud cosponsor of the healthy families act which creates a national paid the program to provide workers with up to 12ea weeks paid leave sevn sick days a year. without these s laws, these
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disparities, latinos have the highest labor force rate and the fastest-growing segment of the workforce yet they are the least likely to have access to paid sick leave. 50% of latinos report having no access to paid time off compared to 34% of white workers and native american workers are one 100% less likely to take leave when he did according to the national partnership for women and families. yes or no, our workers without paid sick days and family medical leave disproportionatelo african-american, hispanic and native american? >> yes, they are. >> your company provides generous paid sick, and medical leave benefits, why does your company choose to provide these benefits and how has it impacted your business and workers, especially workers of color? >> thank you for the question. ibm and like many employers o
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decided to offer these benefits because one, we recognize there is a fundamental need for that, people do need time off to take care of themselves and their families. second, we are in a competitive talent market and we know we need to offer an attractive package in order to attract the best and the brightest to work for us the companies represented today in american benefits council so that is anotheril reason i think i referenced earlier that we see a huge uptick in our engagement which is tied to productivity and retention, keeping our employees on the job happy doing their jobs, their best job by offering these programs. if we are there when they need us then they really will say if they want to do their best jobs is good for the business as well. >> thank a you. my time has expired, i do have a
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question but i will submit that to the questions and learn more about what it means for her employees for these policies, apologize i could not get to that. i look forward to learning from you as well. >> thank you so much. senator hickenlooper. >> thank you, madam chair and i want to thank each of the panelists for the time not just to be here today but for all the preparation and the work they've given. last year in the midst of coronavirus pandemic, colorado voters, statewide voter initiative overwhelmingly chose to create a statewide paid family medical leave program. to mypr knowledge, the country
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does this initiative. what was really unusual about this was the support was high across the state and demographics and highly democratic county but also with voters in urban and rural areas and i would like to, if you could speak more about for people there. >> yes, the colorado victory, a huge testament to the bipartisan policy, it's been true nation wide and it was wonderful to see that happen. colorado adapted these laws in the middle of the pandemic
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through the legislature so congrats to your state for being a leader. i'm glad you bring up the question of access rural areas. no paid sick days, they are less likely to have paid sick days in rural areas and medical leave m and get rural people need to travel in these distances to visit a loved one or see a specialist, attention or input, the distances are higher, access to care is harder to get and for parents, access to infant care is more difficult because of childcare deserts. there's a huge need in rural areas and that speaks to why paid family medical leave is important not just for people but across the country. >> thank you and i couldn't agree more. you see the border initiative like this do so well across all demographics on bipartisan level, you get a sense that this
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is spreading for a national solution i am also a former small business owner, certainly i -- almost every small business owner i wanted, my employees but being aware of the costs of those efforts, last year's covid relief package including access for small business owners who provided, how does it impact your small business is and what lessons do policy makers, what did you learn and how to design a national paid leave policy based on your experience this past year? >> thank you for the question.
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what it has taught me is national family leave, we have come together to allow families and employees to take time off for those being exposed to a virus, what i have learned is having this act really helped, it was a lifeline for us because we look back, i don't know how i could reassure employees they can get paid time off post pandemic, something that would be paid to provide meals and shelter for their families so i think what it has taught me is we need to go at a national level, we can't afford to continue to charge high fees
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because only some can afford it but also on a national level, all business would have access to provide paid sickpr and famiy leave so this is what it taught me'v, this patchwork of emergeny because the prices, you have this on an everyday level. low paid workers to feel security in the jobs. >> we agree on that. again, i want to thank everybody for putting in the time to this panel. i yield my time back to the chair. >> one last question, i'll direct it to all witnesses and it's really a yes or no answer. the federal government allows its employees to use comp time or flex time, in other words, comp time for employees is one
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paid our off for each one hour of irregular or occasional overtime worked for example if you work onn a saturday the regular time for every hour you routinely would have an hour off, then you may be compensated for that time. here's my question. if the benefits are good enough for federal state and local workers, wouldn't be fair to allow private sector workers to get the same generous comp time benefit? yes or no? >> no, they are not required to trade off time andpl money. [inaudible] >> could be part of a solution, not necessarily the only solution. i know that's not yes or no y. >> yes, we support that flexibility. >> we are beginning to go to the
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bank of solutions. i think our witnesses and the chair. >> thank you, i just want tose give a question, you alluded several times to the millions of women who left the workforce during this pandemic and have not yet returned. oftentimes that is women of color, low-wage occupations, she talked about clearly our economy is not going to fully recover from this pandemic unless working women recover. to me that means better childcare and national leave policies. >> i one 100% agree with you. we have for too often fail to invest in a care infrastructure or care economy that recognizes people have personal lives and work lives and they are inextricably connected and we cannot go back, we have to go forward and that involves investments and paid leave and childcare and home and community-based care just like roads and bridges, is essential for people to get to work and
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stay at work. >> thank you. i ask unanimous consent, nationalus paid medical sick lee policies from individuals and groups including advocacy groups for women's and workers around the country. that will and are hearing for today and i want to thank my colleagues for this awesome discussion and i want to thank our witnesses for sharing your time and insights today. for any senators who wish to have additionall questions, questions for the record will be due wednesday june 2 at 5:00 p.m. the hearing record will remain open until then for members who wish to submit additional materials for the record. this committee will next meet in executive session may 2510:00 a.m. to consider bipartisan bills, this committee stands adjourned.d.
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