WREN Testimony in Support of S. 11 (Paid Family Leave for State Employees)
Jan 27, 2021
Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony to this committee. My name is Ann Warner and I am the CEO of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN). WREN is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a mission to build a movement to advance the health, economic well-being, and rights of South Carolina’s women, girls, and their families. On behalf of our organization, I ask committee members to vote in favor of S.11, which would provide state employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. I ask this not only as an advocate for the women and families of our state but as an employer who has had to develop and implement leave policies for my workforce. WREN provides 12 weeks of paid leave to new parents because we know that it is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Paid parental leave equips our employees to balance their home life and work life, bring their best to the job, and helps us recruit and retain the best employees that we possibly can in a competitive labor market. Paid family leave is crucial to supporting working families’ economic security, improving gender equity in the workplace, and improving recruitment and retention of our state employees. Without paid leave, parents face the impossible choice of choosing between their financial well-being, and the well-being of a new child. No one should have to risk their job or face financial loss while welcoming a child into their family.
Providing 12 weeks of paid leave improves child health outcomes.
- Children whose mothers do not return to work full time in the first 12 weeks are more likely to receive medical checkups and critical vaccinations.
- Mothers who take at least 12 weeks of leave are also more likely to breastfeed, with provides important lasting health benefits for their children
Providing 12 weeks of paid leave improves maternal health and benefits both mothers and fathers:
- For new birth mothers, having less than 12 weeks of family leave is associated with increased symptoms of postpartum depression,3 which may make it difficult to return to the workforce.
- Fathers who take longer leaves experience greater engagement in their children’s lives; greater paternal engagement has cognitive and developmental advantages for children.
- Providing paid leave for both parents allows new fathers to provide more support to their partners, decrease stress on the family, and a significantly lower likelihood to need public assistance in the year following their child’s birth.
A recent poll of likely voters found that 90% of South Carolinians support paid leave as a legislative priority.8 This policy has overwhelming bipartisan support among voters and would position South Carolina as a leader in this area. Paid parental leave is essential to the health of our economy, our workplaces, and our families. As an employer and as a parent, I am convinced that providing this benefit is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do, and I encourage you to vote yes on S. 11.
1 Lawrence M. Berger, Jennifer Lynn Hill, and Jane Waldfogel, Maternity Leave, Early Maternal Employment and Child Health and Development in the US, The Economic Journal 115, no. 501 (2005).
3 Pinka Chatterji and Sara Makowitz, Family Leave After Childbirth and the Mental Health of New Mothers, The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics 15, 61-76 (2012).
4 Maria del Carmen Huerta et al., Fathers’ Leave, Fathers’ Involvement and Child Development Are They Related? Evidence from Four OECD Countries (2013).
5 Ann Sarkadi et al., Fathers’ Involvement and Children’s Developmental Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies, Acta Pediatrica 97: 153-158 (2008).
6 Linda Haas & C. Phillip Hwang, The Impact of Taking Parental Leave on Fathers’ Participation in Childcare and Relationships with Children: Lessons from Sweden, Community, Work & Family, 11:1, 85-104.
7 Houser, L., & Vartanian, T. (2012, January), Pay Matters: The Positive Economic Impacts of Paid Family Leave for Families, Businesses and the Public, Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey Publication (Retrieved 6June 2019) http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/work-family/other/pay-matters.pdf.
8 Change Research, Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, & National Women’s Law Center. (2020, January). Our Voice 2020: Poll of Women and LGBTQ Likely Voters in SC. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/OurVOICE2020