Paid family leave emerging as national issue

Journalist, author and columnist Eve Tahmincioglu hinted in a previous post that (perhaps counter to intuitition) men have been major beneficiaries of California’s paid family leave program:

Many people I talk to think paid family leave will end up benefitting only women who take time off right after they give birth or who typically end up having to care for sick family members. But I’m here to tell you that many of the individuals I’ve interviewed recently, which I’ll be profiling in my column on MSNBC.com in the coming weeks, have been men.

Her Monday column fills in the details.

Tahmincioglu interviews two men (Nitish, a technology manager for Washington Mutual bank, and Walt, a reporter for the Sacramento Bee) who used the program to care for a newborn and an aging father, respectively.

Nitish said “It’s kind of an incentive to take some time off and help with the newborn,” while Walt notes “I was going to take the time regardless, but it took some of the financial pressure off.”

Playing against stereotype again in the same article, Tahmincioglu also interviews Kathie Elliott, assistant director of employee relations with Central Michigan State University (and mother), who says the program risks business competitiveness.

But upon contacting a business advocate working in California, she finds the reality on the ground to be a bit different:

“It wasn’t as dramatic an impact as a lot of people thought it would be,” says Mary Topliff, an employment law attorney in San Francisco. “It’s been fairly seamless for a lot of people.”

A reader poll with over 11,400 responses in the same article finds 62% in favor of requiring employers to offer some sort of paid family leave, 29% opposing and 9% unsure.

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