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Ritual Urges Congress to Pass Paid Family and Medical Leave for All

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We’re continuing our fight for Paid Family Leave by calling on Congress to prioritize and advance paid family and medical leave. We believe everyone should have access to paid leave and shouldn’t have to choose between healing our bodies, taking care of our children, and working. Ritual recently expanded our paid parental leave to 20 weeks paid leave, but we know this is not a reality for everyone. It’s time for our leaders to level the playing field and protect workers, especially those most vulnerable to losing their jobs or currently without paid leave. Read our letter to Congress below and please join us in this fight.

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McCarthy, and Leader McConnell:

On behalf of Ritual, a supplemental health company, we write to urge you to prioritize and to advance paid family and medical leave—to move for its passage at the earliest possible opportunity. The last few years have shed light on the struggles many parents face while caring for children and balancing work outside the home. As a woman led and founded company, these stories are the stories of our everyday lives. We write today in support of national paid family and medical leave, to support working parents.

As you know, paid family leave provides a critical safety-net to parents in the U.S. Nearly 30 years have passed since Congress enacted legislation protecting the rights of workers to access unpaid family and medical leave. As a mother of three young children, I know first hand the challenges of balancing motherhood and a career and I know that legislation like the Building an Economy for Families Act would have made a difference to the lives of women and parents around the country. We sincerely hope—we ask—that the Senate and the House both take action to prioritize paid leave’s passage.

Lack of Access to Paid Family Leave is a Public Health Crisis

Ritual was founded in 2015 to support people’s health, with an emphasis on the prenatal and postnatal community. I wanted to make a difference by providing benefits for Ritual’s employees that take into account parenthood and postpartum. Our commitment to the health of our employees led us to update our current paid family leave policy. Ritual will now be expanding our benefits to offer our employees 20 weeks of paid family leave for all new parents, including primary and secondary caregivers of all genders who have become parents through birth, adoption or surrogacy. All Ritual employees will have access to this benefit, regardless of how long they have been with the company and 100% of their salary will be paid.

Our policies are in stark contrast with the reality facing most U.S. workers today[1]:

● Only 23 percent of workers have access to paid family leave through their employers

● Only 40 percent have access to personal medical leave through employer-provided short-term
disability insurance

● Only 60 percent of workers are eligible to take advantage of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and many cannot afford to take unpaid leave

Moreover, the lack of a robust federal paid family leave policy disproportionately impacts low-wage workers who are often ineligible for federal or state benefits because they perform shift work or their employers do not offer paid family leave.[2]

Just as the data is clear that paid family leave contributes to the healthy development of children, improves maternal health and reduces financial insecurity during a high-stress time, the inverse is also true. Workers who need time off due to the birth of a child or a sick family member are often faced with limited choices and fewer resources. Some leave the work force and struggle to get by while others stay at their jobs but are unable to care for their own and their families’ needs. Both outcomes can have long-term physical, mental and economic consequences for workers and their families.

Patchwork of State Legislation Does Not Protect Majority of American Families

In the absence of federal legislation, some states have passed laws that recognize the need to support families, including our home state of California which provides up to eight weeks of partial pay to care for a new child or seriously ill family member. Eleven states and Washington, DC have also passed paid family leave policies that provide protections for workers. While we are encouraged by the increasing number of states enacting policies, Ritual strongly believes that fundamental health care and human rights for families should be expanded to the national level.

While businesses like ours have taken the lead in doing the right thing by our employees, most workers in the U.S. still do not have access to the same rights. From my personal experience managing a company of 120+ employees, I see the exponential benefits we reap when we give parents the opportunity to take advantage of paid time off. That is why we thank you for all of your efforts to build a care infrastructure in this country, and for the historic passage of transformative legislation in the Building an Economy for Families Act in the House, as well as the Inflation Reduction Act. We urgently ask both chambers to prioritize paid family and medical leave in your agenda going forward. It will have positive reverberations for generations to come.

Sincerely,
Katerina Schneider
Founder and CEO, Ritual

References:

*[1] https://www.brookings.edu/research/a-primer-on-access-to-and-use-of-paid-family-leave
[2] https://www.cbpp.org/research/economy/a-national-paid-leave-program-would-help-workers-families*

Looking for action to take? Call on Congress to pass Paid Leave For All.

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