By Michael Tedder
December 13, 2019
IIIerlok_Xolms—Getty Images/iStockphoto

This week, the House of Representatives passed a bill (tacked onto much larger one that will create President Donald Trump’s Space Force) that will provide over two million civilian federal employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave. Now, corporate America is feeling the pressure to keep up.

As reported by Axios, on Wednesday the Business Roundtable, a coalition of CEOs led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman & CEO Jamie Dimon, wrote letters asking Congress and Trump to make paid family leave available to “as many working Americans as possible.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only “16% of private employees had access to paid family leave in 2018.” Family leave includes maternity and paternity leave.

The Business Roundtable formed this summer with the goal of redefining what a corporation should be in the modern age, with the main impetus being that companies should not view making profits for their shareholders as the main priority, but should also consider their responsibility to their employees and the society at large. That said, the CEOs of the Business Roundtable have plenty of reasons to want the government to make family leave mandatory.

With unemployment at a 50-year-low, workers have a good deal of bargaining power, and if private companies want to attract and retain top talent, CEOs are aware that they need to be as generous as private companies. According to Glassdoor, only a handful of companies (such as Netflix and Microsoft) offer parental benefits comparable to what the federal government will provide.

And by getting the federal government to make family leave mandatory, CEOs won’t have to pony up to compete. Instead, “programs under consideration in this White House do not raise taxes on businesses, but instead allow employees to pull forward from either the child tax credit that they are eligible for or social security—so there are no additional costs on business.”

This change for federal workers might be only the start of things to come.

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