Resolution on Paid Family Leave in United States

Posted on: Thursday April 7, 2016

Whereas throughout time Jews have placed our families at the center of our lives, beginning with the commandment to honor our fathers and mothers (Deuteronomy 5:15) and continuing with the mitzvot ha’av al ha’ben and the mitzvot ha’ben al ha’av - the obligations of parents to children and children to parents; and

Whereas Judaism teaches us to care for our bodies and keep them healthy in order to “walk in God’s ways” (Mishneh Torah 4:1); and

Whereas the ability to care for our own health and that of our families is crucial not only to maintaining a job but also to maintaining the health of our communities; and

Whereas Rambam tells us that the highest level of tzedakah is to help prevent people from falling into financial need (Mishneh Torah 10:7); and

Whereas it is increasingly difficult to take time off from work if it means missing a paycheck, particularly in an economy where for many people missing one paycheck makes all the difference in our ability to pay our bills and keep a roof over our heads; and

Whereas:

  • In the US, thirteen percent of families with a new infant enter into poverty within the first month because of the combined effects of a need for increased income and a reduced number of working hours
  • In the year after giving birth, new mothers who take paid leave are more likely than those who take no paid leave to stay in the work force
  • Among those who receive partial or no pay during leave, 33% borrow money, dip into savings, or put off paying bills, while 15% go on public assistance to help provide basic necessities for their families
  • Studies also show that when parents are able to take time off to care for a sick child, the child recovers faster. (Heymann, J., & Earle, A. (2010). "Raising the global floor: dismantling the myth that we can't afford good working conditions for everyone. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Politics and Policy); and

Whereas at some point in of our lives, almost all of us will fall seriously ill, need to care for an ailing family member, or welcome a new child into our family; and

Whereas only 13 percent of all American employees- and only 5% of the lowest-income workers- have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have access to personal medical leave through employer-provided short-term disability insurance"; and

Whereas the United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not guarantee any form of paid parental leave;

Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly support paid family leave and encourages its rabbis to advocate for legislation to enact paid family and medical leave, such as the federal FAMILY Act, and local state and city efforts;

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage our kehilot to join and, where appropriate, help build local coalitions to advance the passage of these laws.

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage our kehilot and Conservative Movement institutions to investigate these issues and strive to offer paid family and medical leave for their employees of all genders, setting an example for their communities.