Have you ever felt that sinking feeling of sending your child off to school with a fever because you truly had no other option?
Showed up to work while battling an illness even when you know you won't be at your best, that you'll take longer to recover, and that you'll likely spread your sickness to others?
Felt like you'd missed out on pivotal moments -- bonding with a newborn, spending quality time caring for an aging parent -- all because you could not afford to miss a few days of work?
You're not alone. Millions of Americans who are supporting a family while holding down a job face tough choices every day, and likely feel stretched between the financial and personal needs of their family.
And here's what we know: Today, 43 million private-sector workers in the U.S. are without any form of paid sick leave. Only three states -- California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island -- offer paid family and medical leave. The United States remains the only developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave.
I'm writing to make sure you know that President Obama is acting today to help do something about that.
Ahead of his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the President is announcing several initiatives that will spur action and empower working parents in both their roles as workers and parents. He's calling on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick time. He'll help states and municipalities create and manage their own paid leave programs. And he's signing a Presidential Memorandum that will ensure that most federal employees have access to at least six weeks of paid sick leave when a new child arrives by allowing new parents to advance sick leave -- and also proposing that Congress offer six weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave as well.
These steps will be a big part of what the President is doing to help working families in 2015. If you agree, say you're in and join us at 9 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, January 20 to see what the President has planned for this year.
These steps build on the progress we made at the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families this summer -- and they reflect the stories so many of you shared about the obstacles you face every day. As one mother from Missouri said, "Because the livelihood of our household is completely dependent on me there is a LOT of pressure to be at work every second I can. I am plagued with the moral dilemma of being at work and missing out on doctors' appointments, school programs, and classroom parties or missing work and creating even more of a financial hardship."
Another hardworking women from Delaware told us, "I work in an office with 14 other women, many of whom are single moms, and some of whom have no back-up when their children become ill. Our company allots no sick or personal days, so these moms must either use one of the 10 days they are given for vacation per year, or, if they have no vacation days left, they must send their sick child to school/daycare and hope they don't get a call in the middle of the day."
Fixing these challenges won't just make life better for millions of American families. It will ultimately improve the financial bottom lines of the companies that choose to step up and make a change on their own.
Let's make that happen now. If you're an employer, ask yourself what you're doing for your workers on paid sick days and paid leave. If you're looking for a job or have one, consider what changes like these would mean for your success -- at work, and at home.
And if you're setting your schedule, make sure you're planning to watch the President's State of the Union address this Tuesday to learn more about the actions he's taking on behalf of working families across this country.
President Obama is committed to ensuring that we maintain the strongest, most skilled, and most productive possible workforce for the 21st century. That will begin with strong families, and workplaces filled with loyal and empowered workers. Today's action is a step toward that goal, and everyone has a role to play.
The White House
The White House