Tiffany Jarrett is pictured in August 2021. (Photo credit: Tiffany Jarrett)
Millions of working parents do not have access to paid family or medical leave, creating a barrier to full employment and forcing a decision between earning an income and caring for a chronically sick child. Without paid leave, some working parents, such as Tiffany Jarrett in Phoenix, cannot afford to take unpaid time off to take their children to doctor’s appointments.
Tiffany is a full-time working mom providing for her teenage son, who has a thyroid condition that requires regular blood testing and doctor’s appointments. As a contract employee at a local small business, however, Tiffany cannot access any paid leave; she must take unpaid time off to attend her son’s doctor’s appointments but often cannot find the time to make up for those lost hours. She has no choice but to put off his doctor’s appointments due to a lack of paid leave, or risk not bringing in the income she needs to cover the cost of her son’s care and their everyday essentials.
It's definitely challenging to make up time when I take unpaid time off. You make it work because it has to work, there’s no other option. People ask, 'How are you doing?' and I say I’m good because I can't be any other way. At the end of the day, I still have to provide.
A lack of paid leave leads to higher employee turnover, increased medical costs, and loss of income over time, especially for women, who are often primary family caregivers. After the pandemic forced millions of mothers out of the workforce, providing paid family and medical leave would help women reenter the workforce and ease caregiving responsibilities while advancing their careers.
Read more stories on economic justice and health care
This storybook features women in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire whose stories center on issues from prescription drug pricing and health insurance, to child care and paid leave.