Paid Leave

Stossel: The Paid Leave Fairy Tale

Why mandated paid family leave is bad for business and bad for most women.


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Most 2020 presidential candidates support government-mandated paid family leave. On the surface, that sounds like a good policy. Supporters are quick to point out that only the U.S. and Papua New Guinea don't require businesses to provide time off with compensation for new parents.

Patrice Lee Onwuka, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women's Forum, says this argument is "disingenuous."

As she told John Stossel, most full-time American workers already receive paid leave.

"About 17 percent of workers have paid parental leave…but you jump to 60, 70, 80 percent when you consider people have sick time off, overtime, or all-encompassing personal time."

These benefits are voluntarily provided even to lower-level employees.

"Chipotle workers, CVS workers, [and] Walmart workers," says Onwuka.

"Why would CVS and Walmart provide this voluntarily?" Stossel asks.

"For an employer to attract…good talent or retain their talent, they need to offer benefits that really resonate with workers,"Onwuka explains. "Paid maternity and paternity leave is one of those benefits."

"Politicians are so arrogant, Stossel said, "that they now tell people that mandating leave for all employees will be 'good for business.' Somehow they don't know that business knows better what's good for business."

In truth, mandated leave turns out to be not only bad for business but bad for most women.

"If we look at how the rest of the world has provided very generous, mandated paid leave plans," Onwuka says, "we see that it actually has a negative impact on women."

Why would that be? Because mandatory leave makes companies fearful of hiring young women. "If an employer has a young woman in front of him of childbearing age," says Onwuka, "he's thinking, 'OK, I have to provide paid time off. I have a potential other employee who's a male."

Comparing Europe to America, Onwuka explains, "American women are twice as likely to be in senior level positions, managerial positions, then women in Europe….It's very much tied to these mandates around paid leave and paid time off."

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The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.