Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina said Sunday that she would oppose a government requirement to give workers in the private sector paid maternity or paternity leave.
"I don't think it's the role of government to dictate to the private sector how to manage their businesses," Fiorina told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union." "For the government to tell others how to do things, when the government hasn't gotten its basic house in order, is not only ineffective, it's hypocritical."
Unlike most other developed countries, the U.S. has no law guaranteeing paid leave for workers who just had a child. The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for qualifying workers, but it's up to employers whether or not any paid time is included.
Low-income workers are significantly less likely to get paid leave than their higher-income counterparts, and many Americans -- women in particular -- support the idea of a government mandate.
Fiorina, a former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, said the decision should be left to employers. She pointed to the recent announcement by Netflix that the company would be providing up to a year of paid parental leave to argue that businesses know what's best for themselves. (Notably, the lower-paid workers who handle Netflix DVDs are not included in the company's expanded paid leave program.)
"When I was chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, we also offered paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave," she said. "It's pretty clear that the private sector, like Netflix, is doing the right thing because they know it helps them attract the right talent."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 39 percent of U.S. private-sector workers do not have access to any paid sick days. Among the top 10 percent of wage earners, 86 percent have paid sick leave, while among the bottom 10 percent, only 22 percent do.