(Manchester , NH) – Today, Senator John Edwards outlined his bold policies for a more family-friendly America with universal paid family and medical leave, universal pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds, more affordable care for other children and job benefits for independent workers. Among the most significant policy proposals of the Edwards plan is for at least eight weeks of paid family and medical leave that will helpAmerican workers balance their jobs and their families.– Today, Senator John Edwards outlined his bold policies for a more family-friendly America with universal paid family and medical leave, universal pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds, more affordable care for other children and job benefits for independent workers. Among the most significant policy proposals of the Edwards plan is for at least eight weeks of paid family and medical leave that will helpAmerican workers balance their jobs and their families.
“The broken system in Washington has forgotten America’s families for too long,” said Edwards. “In the past generation, an unprecedented number of women have taken jobs outside the home, changing the face of the American workforce. But while two-thirds of mothers are now working, it has never been harder for American workers to balance the needs of their jobs and their families.
“No parent should have to go back to work before their newborn is old enough to go into child care or to lose their job if their child needs to go to the emergency room. Millions of families cannot afford to take unpaid time off, but only 8 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave. The vast majority of countries in the world offer paid leave – it is long past time that America made sure that paid leave is there for every worker.”
The Edwards plan is also more bold and family friendly than other candidates’ plans. It goes further faster by setting a national goal of eight weeks of paid leave by 2014 and it provides more federal resources – $2 billion a year – to help states meet that goal.
Edwards’ plan for balancing work and family is based on three core proposals: (1) offering universal paid family leave, (2) creating universal preschool and affordable child care and (3) promoting economic fairness for independent workers.
Universal Paid Family Leave: Edwards will ensure that workers have time off when they need it by working with states to offer eight weeks of paid family and medical leave to all American workers. He will give an additional 13 million workers the right to take family leave without losing their jobs. Finally, Edwards will require all businesses to offer their workers a minimum of seven paid sick days a year.
Universal Preschool and Affordable Childcare : Edwards will help make quality preschool education as common as kindergarten by helping all states offer “Great Promise” universal high-quality programs for four-year-olds. He will help parents pay for child care by more than doubling the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and will help improve child care quality by encouraging teacher certification and training for caregivers.
Economic Fairness for Independent Workers : Edwards supports updating benefits for independent workers, who are largely excluded from retirement, health care, unemployment insurance, sick days and other benefits of traditional employment. Edwards has called for the creation of Health Care Markets and new subsidies so independent workers can get affordable health insurance, offering a new portable universal retirement account, modernizing our unemploymentinsurance program, and extending sick days and family leave benefits to part-time workers. Edwards will also crack down on the misclassification of workers as independent contractors that allows employers to avoid paying taxes and benefits.
Edwards’ proposals for balancing work and family were introduced during the second day of the campaign’s “Promise of a Better America Week.” Yesterday, Edwards kicked off the week with his plan to restore the sacred promise to America’s veterans. Edwards will travel to Iowa on Wednesday, where he’ll hold a series of town hall meetings focusing on the need to rebuild the American middle class and help American manufacturers. On Thursday in Nevada, Edwards will highlight his plans to ensure we meet the educational promise of our children.