Virginia mother 'disappointed' by paid leave loss: 'Still paycheck to paycheck then'

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-30 13:53:58-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- When Morgan Kiku had her second baby, she got six weeks off paid at 60 percent of her wage under short-term disability.

But, the next six weeks she had to take off unpaid, which put a financial strain on her family.

"We were still paycheck to paycheck then," Kiku said.

Kiku believes a minimum of 12 weeks of paid family leave should be mandatory so news that Democrats pulled the benefitfrom President Joe Biden's spending package upsets her.

"I am very disappointed. I think that is the wrong direction to go," Kiku said.

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Morgan Kiku and children.

Democratic Senator Time Kaine said pulling the leave was "one of his biggest points of dissatisfaction" and called it "discouraging."

Senator Mark Warner, also a Democrat, said he is "encouraged that the White House has reached an agreement on a transformative budget reconciliation package" but admitted "the framework leaves room for future action on critical needs like paid family leave."

Republican Congressman Bob Good called the President's package "reckless spending" that is part of his "radical socialist agenda."

"We don't need paid family leave, we don't have the money number one, we've got $29 trillion worth of debt," Good said.

National Federation of Independent Businesses' Nicole Riley and WTVR CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit.
National Federation of Independent Businesses' Nicole Riley and WTVR CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit.

Nicole Riley with the National Federation of Independent Businesses said the 6,000 small businesses she represents in Virginia did not support the measure.

She said it would be very hard for a variety of small businesses to cover those weeks off, even if taxpayers paid for it.

"For a business owner, particularly a small business owner, they would have to then try to find a temporary worker or someone to try to fill that position while that employee is off," Riley said.

Under Biden's plan, taxpayers would have funded the leave, not businesses, and Democrats removed the leave from the package to reduce the $3.5 trillion price tag.

Workers are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, but Kiku said employees deserve the paid time off, especially mothers recovering from giving birth.

"Exhaustion, pure exhaustion and then your body is still recovering," Kiku said. "And then I'm a breastfeeding mother and breastfeeding isn't even established 100 percent until 12 weeks."

According to an organization of most of the world's largest economies, the United States is the only country among the 38 that does not guarantee any paid leave for mothers.

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