Zero Weeks - A film about paid leave
The United States is the only developed nation without paid family leave. This documentary will help change that. It's about time.
“We’re making people choose between the family they love and the job they need. No other nation on the planet is making these choices.” -U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez
Every month, thousands of Americans are forced out of their job due to an illness or an injury. Countless others step out of the workforce due to the birth of a new child or an aging parent. A majority of these workers want to keep working but are forced to choose between tending to a loved one and keeping their paycheck. This is an unconscionable choice that nobody else in the developed world is forced to make. The United States is the ONLY developed country without guaranteed paid family leave, leaving matters largely up to an employer's generosity—and frequently forcing people to make a difficult choice to avoid extreme financial hardship or being terminated from their jobs. And the statistics are staggering:
- Only 13% of American workers had access to paid family leave through their employer
- 44% of American households do not have enough savings to cover basic expenses for three months of unpaid leave, meaning the birth of a new child or a medical emergency can lead to financial ruin
- 25% percent of new mothers return to work within just 10 days after giving birth, dangerously under the World Health Organization's recommendation of 6 weeks
- Without protections of paid leave, new mothers are 40% more likely to end up on food stamps or public assistance.
Once a fringe topic, paid leave has now become a hot-button issue amongst politicians, business leaders, economists and working families. While corporations such as Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Facebook and progressive cities have implemented individual paid leave policies, the path to universal policies for all Americans is far from reality. While certainly a complex political and economic issue, the truth remains that 86% of Americans want paid family leave. Though the FAMILY Act, co-sponsored by Senator Gillibrand and Rep. DeLauro, would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time for their own serious health condition, the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner or the birth or adoption of a child, it has yet to be brought up for a vote.
And paid leave is great for business. More small business employers say they support family and medical leave insurance than oppose it. The FAMILY Act spreads the cost of leave, reducing the burden on individual employers and allowing many more employees access to paid leave. Paid leave contributes to reduced turnover and increased employee engagement and loyalty. In California, where a family leave insurance program has existed for more than a decade, workers in low-wage, high-turnover industries are much more likely to return to their jobs after using the program.
The feature-length documentary ZERO WEEKS, by award winning Director Ky Dickens will explore why national paid leave is so important, weaving powerful emotional stories together with insightful interviews from leading policy makers, economists, and researchers, laying out out a compelling argument for guaranteed paid leave for every American worker. We’re traveling around the country speaking to experts on this issue, including the U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, White House Council on Women & Girls, the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Center for American Progress. We’re talking to small business owners and corporate leaders who are navigating the complex balance of employee needs and company economics. We're talking with agents of change and activists, including Ellen Bravo, a national spokesperson that is leading the charge on worker's rights.
But most importantly, we’re capturing stories of American workers who want to be at the bedside of their sick child. We’re talking to Americans who can’t be there for their ailing parent in their last weeks of life. We’re talking to young mothers and fathers who will have to use up all of their savings and in order to take a few weeks of maternity or paternity leave. Or mothers who have to return back to work within days of having a c-section because they can’t afford to go without a paycheck.
Every single American is touched by this topic.Together, we can make a difference. We can make recovering from an illness easier for millions of Americans. We can make the end of life easier for our parents. We can make the beginning of life easier for our babies. We can make the unexpected twist and turns in life, more manageable by ensuring they don’t turn into economic calamities for families.
1. BACK ZERO WEEKS at whatever level you can. Each and every dollar raised will go directly towards the production of Zero Weeks and creating visibility for the critical need for paid family leave.
2. SPREAD THE WORD! Paid leave laws affect every American, so let's create a groundswell. Please share our page on Twitter and Facebook. Email your friends, family and co-workers. Let's make this an issue that can no longer be ignored.
If you'd like to participate more deeply in Zero Weeks, email the production team at firstname.lastname@example.org — we'd love to talk to you!
Risks and challenges
Conversations about the importance of paid leave have swiftly entered our national discourse and the time is NOW to make paid leave a reality for every American, regardless of where they work or where they live. The sooner this film is made, the sooner we can create change.
Paid leave for American workers must be discussed in an election year. Our goal is to have this film out by next summer, in advance of the 2016 Presidential election. There’s too much at stake for too many families to let our country’s outdated stance on paid leave drag on any longer.
Our film team is working closely with Ellen Bravo and Family Vales @ Work, a non-profit with national reach, to create a comprehensive impact campaign the second this film is complete. Through this combined effort, we will have a team on the ground, in almost every state, to impact paid leave laws on the federal level, state level and city level.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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