Paid leave plans are long overdue

Tuesday night’s State of the Union address marked the first high-profile push of President Barack Obama’s desire to expand paid leave for workers across the country.

When it comes to paid leave for family or health reasons, the United States is among the lowest-ranked of the world’s wealthy, developed countries. In fact, the U.S. is one of only two nations that don’t have any kind of legally mandated, partially paid leave for new mothers.

Policies that benefit family and personal well-being should be on the forefront of policymakers’ minds, but instead, they almost always sit on the backburner.

The President wants to change this type of thinking and take action, starting with employees of the federal government. Obama is asking Congress to pass laws that would give those workers up to seven days of paid sick leave each year.

Essentially, this would let some public sector employees stay home when they are ill — keeping themselves and their colleagues healthier — without having to worry about lost wages.

This sounds like a common-sense policy, but it isn’t in this country. The notion of paid sick leave will almost certainly receive backlash, just like every other idea mentioned in the State of the Union.

However, for the good of our country’s future workforce, we hope Congress takes heed of the President’s proposal and creates policies that benefit all workers — not just the wealthiest of us, who likely have plenty of paid time off.