Lindsay, NGO Employee (Washington, DC)
Lindsay is not even 30 but is already planning for a liver transplant later in life due to chronic illness. Her career path will be determined by whether or not a company provides paid leave.
Sometimes life doesn’t go how you planned! I’m 28 years old and I’ve been diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases in the past six years. Thankfully I have been able to follow my chosen career path and provide for myself, but that won’t be true forever. Sometime in the next fifteen years I will need a liver transplant. I dread that moment—not just because it will be painful and risky for me, but because I will need to rely so much on the kindness of my spouse, siblings, and parents to care for my during that time. Every single day, I worry that I will financially ruin my family because of my health problems. With paid medical and family leave, I hope that both I and my family can make it through the next few years in tact.
Laura, Social Worker (Oakland, CA)
Laura Eberly is a social worker and community organizer with the YWCA. She helps older workers find and keep good jobs.
A car hit me while riding my bicycle shortly after moving to Oakland from Chicago. My leg was broken in multiple places and I needed help convalescing and getting around after the accident. My mom took FMLA to come out and care for me. This helped a lot. I’m really happy as part of my work I can advocate to extend job-protected leave to more workers and their families. In California, even with Paid Family Leave, too many workers risk losing their jobs when they need to take time for a family member.
Sable, Cashier (Portland, ME)
I was a full time student when I became pregnant. I had no access to paid family leave to take the three months I know my baby needed. My only option was to sign up for a full load of classes and take out student loans to help us through the time I needed. As it turned out my baby had major breastfeeding challenges. He was born with tongue-tie, which, made breast-feeding very difficult. He also had a frenectomy and required craniosacral therapy to improve his latch. I worked closely with a lactation specialist for almost twelve weeks. Several of those weeks were spent on the couch solely nursing. I felt and feel proud that as an African American mother I was able to give my child access to health benefit such as fewer illnesses, long-term protection against chronic illness because I worked hard to ensure he could breastfeed. The very financially painful side to incurring so many student loans, in addition to still being burdened with the debt, is that I could not attend classes and had to withdraw from my courses having used up the money to take those classes. The lack of paid family leave has left my family in financial debt. If was able to have my baby and take the time to care for myself and meet our bonding and his medical needs, our family would be in a more secure place right now.
Sable is a mother with one child. She is a cashier now and was a student when her baby was born.
Kathy, McDonald’s Worker (Tucson, AZ)
I work at a Tucson McDonald’s franchise. I go to work even when my asthma is acting up because seven family members depend on the $1,250 I make each month before taxes. I’ll work the grill instead of my normal spot at the drive-through window because my voice is too hoarse. I’m on the grill, but yet I’m sick. Many of my co-workers also come in sick out of financial necessity. We all just try to stay away from each other.
Kathy is a 52-year old single mom working in the fast food industry.
Jenna, Health clinic billing administrator (Portland, ME)
My partner and I spent three years preparing financially to have a baby. When our baby was born, I was working as a Billing Administrator at a small health clinic and the job did not provide any paid leave. This contributed to my decision to leave that job when my baby was born, even though doing so has been financially difficult. The stress of not having income bears a great burden on my stress level, and I am very aware of the fact that each and every expense brings the total amount of time that I can be home with my baby down. When the money we managed to save up runs out and I am left to find a new job, we will be faced with the battle of finding a job that pays more than what daycare costs would be. This is no small feat.
Jenna is a new mother who is currently not working due to the lack of paid family leave.
Sabrina (Summerfield, CA)
Sabrina Summerfield is an adoptive mother of three who worked for a small employer.
My three young nephews were left without a caretaker after a car accident resulted in the death of my father and young niece, which also left my sister unable to care for the boys. My husband and I decided to adopt the boys since they had already had such a traumatic time. When I tried to take six weeks off and use some paid family leave benefits in order to help the boys recover, however, I was fired upon asking. My employer only had 30 employees and wasn’t held liable to the current laws on leave. So, now we are down an income with three small children with lots of needs.