Actor Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, sent out a stark call about the need for paid family leave in the United States in a CNN opinion piece published on Saturday,
The couple mentioned Miller Rogen’s mother, who died in 2020 after a 15-year battle with younger-onset Alzheimer’s, a variant of the illness affecting people under 65.
“It took her as it takes so many — bit by bit, day by day, slowly robbing her of her thoughts, her memories and those corny jokes she loved to tell,” the Rogens wrote. “As part of her care team, we learned what it meant to parent a parent as the illness cheated Lauren’s mother of her ability to do for herself the daily tasks we take for granted, from eating to bathing to dressing.”
This experience made the couple realize that “most employers provide people — especially young people — with little to no caregiving resources,” and noted that the United States is the only industrialized nation in which the national government doesn’t mandate paid maternity or family leave.
(Eight states — California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington — and the District of Columbia have statutes that require employers to offer various paid leave policies.)
President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic relief plan, which has yet to pass Congress, includes two weeks of mandatory paid leave for all American workers and an additional 12 weeks at two-thirds pay for those with family affected by COVID-19.
The Rogens called this a “critical first step,” and urged Congress to pass the plan, arguing that COVID-19 had exposed flaws in America’s health care system, and “now is the moment for us to yell and scream for the relief needed by those of us working day and night to care for our parents and the other people we love.”
The couple also urged the Biden administration to expand paid leave to include families caring for older adults (rather than just granting it for parents caring for children) and to support these caregivers with adequate stimulus payments and flexible workplace policies.
“Adele, Lauren’s mom, was a teacher for 35 years,” the couple conclude. “She taught her young students and her children what it means to belong to a community ... And she taught us how to care for the people we love — and also how important it is to show up for them. Her children and the generations of children she taught carry those lessons with them today. It’s time for elected leaders to do the same.”