Millions of Americans were set to gain paid family and sick leave before President Biden’s proposal to create a federal standard benefit was dropped from his sweeping social safety net package.
About 102 million Americans, or about 77% of workers, don’t currently have access to paid family leave that allows them to take paid time off after becoming a new parent or caring for a seriously ill family member, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
About 29 million people, about 21% or workers, don’t have a single paid sick leave, according to the data.
“The consequences of the loss of this policy at the federal level will disproportionately fall on low-wage workers and women of color who are least likely to have any time off at all,” said Sherry Leiwant, cofounder of the nonprofit A Better Balance that works to advance justice for workers, in a statement.
The paid leave plan’s survival had been in question for several days due to objections from Sen. Joe Manchin, key moderate Democrat from West Virginia. Biden's initial 12-week proposal was scaled back to four weeks in an effort to secure Manchin's support, but it was left completely out of a new framework announced by Biden Thursday.
More background: The United States currently has no federal paid family or sick leave benefit, making it an outlier among developed countries. It is the only nation that does not offer some paid leave to new mothers among the 38 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In the absence of a federal mandate, many private employers as well as six states and Washington, DC, offer paid family and sick leave. Three more states have passed laws to establish these benefits and are planning to start paying them out over the next few years.