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Investment Banker: Invest in Paid Family Leave

January 14, 2014-Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG- A strong voice from Wall Street is weighing in on the importance of paid family leave for parents of newborn children and people caring for seriously-ill or elderly relatives, in Pennsylvania and nationwide.
According to investment banker Tom Nides, who served as Deputy U.S. Secretary of State and recently moved to Morgan Stanley as vice-chairman, he believes in legislation introduced in Congress that would create employee-paycheck deduction pools. Those would be used to compensate workers during family leaves.

"I think it's a huge benefit and a huge plus," he said. "We've got to move this debate forward. It's, by the way, the right thing to do."

Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Bob Brady is co-sponsoring the federal Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. This month, Rhode Island became the third state to offer workers paid family leave, joining California and New Jersey.

Some business groups say that, even though family leave wouldn't be paid by taxpayers or employers but by paycheck deductions, it should be voluntary, not government-mandated. Nides, however, said it is an idea whose time has come.

"I am totally aware, as a businessperson and as someone who's been involved in public policy for a long time, that this is difficult for a lot of companies, this is expensive," he admitted. "But we've got to begin having this conversation in the United States."
Nides said he believes worker productivity will rise and employers will recognize the good will that comes out of paying for family-related time off.

"There's no question that studies have shown that individuals, given the opportunity to have a few weeks to take care of a newborn or a sick family member, it's critically important to the productivity of that individual."

Surveys have shown America lags behind many other developed nations in offering paid family leave.

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