Monday, April 6, 2009

We need your support....

And by "we", I mean families all across Oregon need your support.

When Dan and I decided to start our family, one issue I began to explore right away was the feasibility of being home with our children. I knew that I didn't want to quit working, but did know that I wouldn't be prepared to head back to work immediately after the birth. As I began to explore my options, what I learned was rather depressing. I was eligible for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and OFLA (Oregon Family Leave Act), which were the best our country and state had to offer. Through these laws I was entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from my job. That's it. And that was only good as long as we could afford to be without my income for those twelve weeks.

Then I began to explore the policies in other countries. Turns out that the US is one of three countries that does not have some sort of paid maternity leave plan.
Worldwide, 12 paid weeks is about the minimum, and many countries go far and above that. Here are some great charts to share these policies. I became even more frustrated (and jealous) when I realized that my sister would be given a year's leave with a high portion of that year paid by the government just across the border.

And the birth of a child was something we could plan for. What would happen if said child every became seriously ill? Or our parents/grandparents needed care for cancer treatment or recovery from a heart attack? NO time to save money, immediate need to provide care, and no assistance available through government or employers - terrifying! What would we do?

Once Max was born, I realized some of the greater implications for the lack of paid family leave. In being able to stay home for an extended period of time I was able to build a strong breastfeeding relationship and avoid high germ exposure for my newborn. Families that must go back to work almost immediately are sabotaged in both of these areas. SO those who can afford it least are saddled with the high costs of formula, daycare bills, and then additional unpaid time off work when their newborn is ill.

It was the combination of these frustrations that led me to become involved with Parents for Paid Leave, a group here in Oregon working to expand OFLA to include 6 weeks of paid leave in the current leave benefit plan. Taken as an employee tax, only those eligible (people currently employed by an employer with greater than 24 employees) to take the leave pay in to the system. There is no cost to the business, and each employee could receive $300 a week for 6 weeks. This would greatly expand the number of people who would be able to take the time that the current law already grants them to take care of a newborn or ill family member.

This week Senate Bill 966 comes before committee. I am asking for your support and help in getting this important piece of legislation passed. Please email or call your senator, or come to the rally in Salem on Wednesday at 3:00 pm We will be meeting on the Capital steps at 2:30, and children are welcome. In a time when there isn't much positive news coming from our government, this is one way we can work to help families across the state without adding to the state budget.

For more information, or help contacting your senators, please visit here.


Anna said...

Way to go! I join you in being appalled by the lack of support for familes. Good for you doing something about it.

The Cohen's said...

Is that just an Oregon thing that is up for vote? I really wish ALL of the US would get on board with this, our country is the worst for paid leave... and I think it should be a MINIMUM of 12 weeks. What a good subject!!!

Erin said...

I wish I could be in Salem to support you. I am appalled that families are not given more support in the state of Oregon and the US.

I love you and I'm proud that you are fighting for this cause.

Stefanie said...

It has always struck me how far behind the US is in supporting leave after childbirth. Some individual companies do a good job making up for what is lacking, but that is even better that the state of Oregon is stepping to the plate. If I lived there, I would be supporting it whole heartedly.

Aurora Raine said...

Megan, This is fantastic, and I had no idea! Do you have a website or anything? I have know plenty of moms in the Salem area that would love to be a part of this!

Thanks for sharing!