We’ve all observed the recent inactivity of Congress, but California lawmakers decided to not let Washington’s lack of progress stop their own. This has been a big week for the state, which passed a plan to raise the minimum wage by 2022 to $15, is working on a secure retirement savings plan, and is pushing other liberal ideas through their legislature. Yesterday, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to provide 6 weeks of fully paid leave for both parents of a newborn or newly adopted child. The United States is one of the last countries to not offer some form of paid parental leave through national legislation, but San Francisco is blazing the trail in responding to the growing demand for such protection. There has been great attention to the issue of paternal leave as major tech companies offer full benefits to their employees (Twitter will begin offering full-time employees 20 weeks of paid leave in May) and as public figures, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder who took a considerable leave after the birth of his first child, establish public support for the policy.
The new law will protect from people merely using the system because it provides stipulations on length of employment before the paid leave can be applied to an employee and it will be implemented in phases so as not to overwhelm employers or produce major push back. It is the first step towards national action on the subject. Californian lawmakers are frustrated with the gridlock in Congress, so they are taking action on their own to protect the social interests of their citizens. It is great that a family-focused policy such as paid leave for both parents is getting so much national attention and, hopefully, other cities and states will soon follow California’s lead to force national action on the issue. Families deserve time at the beginning to become established and form those connections. And, while California continues forward, I hope the rest of us aren’t far behind them.