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Paid Leave Directly Contributes To Healthy Moms And Families

It is not a new idea and it works in other states. Our lawmakers should vote yes on the family and medical leave bills pending at the Legislature.

It’s no secret that living and working in Hawaii requires deep dedication to two things: working for a living wage and protecting and caring for our ohana. The shared value we have as a community is the understanding that family is everything.

Today in homes across Hawaii, parents and caregivers are forced to make an impossible choice. Do I care for my new baby or ill family member, or do I leave them to go to work and earn the pay we need to survive?

This choice has haunting implications for babies, families, public health, the economy and for Hawaii’s workforce.

The lack of paid leave support is especially damaging to mothers and their infants. Studies show that paid maternity leave improves maternal and infant health, including mental and physical health and well-being.

Paid leave is also shown to foster better child-parent relationships by providing parents the time they need to breastfeed, attend well-child medical visits, and ensure their newborn, infant or toddler receives all necessary immunizations, with long-lasting benefits for their children’s health.

Yet, only 27% of mothers in Hawaii breastfeed their infants exclusively through 6 months of age, a startling statistic.

These impossible choices are hurting Hawaii’s families and our economy. Most working mothers who give birth can only receive partial pay through Hawaii Temporary Disability Insurance to recover from childbirth, but TDI cannot be used by non-birth parents or to care for other family members.

If women in Hawaii participated in the labor force at the same rate as women in countries with paid leave, there would be an estimated 18,000 additional workers in the state; workers that are critically needed by employers; and there would be $652 million of additional wages earned statewide.

Paid leave helps children by helping their parents

Paid family and medical leave is not a new idea and it works in other states. In fact, states with these policies have seen significant health, social and economic benefits.

Paid leave helps children by helping their parents. Families that have access to paid leave — especially working women — are healthier, more economically secure, more likely to stay in the workforce and less likely to need public benefits.

New parents with paid family and medical leave spend more time bonding with their children, improving health and education outcomes.

Lastly, when paid leave policies are based on a shared value of ohana and the well-being of working mothers:

  • Women who receive paid leave have a lower chance of reporting intimate partner violence.

  • Increases in paid parental and/or maternity leave decrease rates of infant mortality.

  • Paid leave has reduced the incidence of head trauma caused by abuse among children younger than 2 years of age due to lower levels of stress and abusive behavior of parents.

We urge our legislators to advocate for Hawaii’s families and working mothers and their ability to care for their families without risking their paycheck.

Vote yes on paid family and medical leave bills this session.



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