Just Films Series • Chatham University • April 18, 2018 • 6:30PM
Most Americans agree that family comes first. No matter where you work or what zip code you live in, you should be able to welcome a new child, to care for your mother when she has her knee replaced or to heal from cancer without facing financial disaster.
And yet in 2016, only 14 percent of private sector workers in the U.S. reported having paid family leave through an employer; less than 40 percent have personal medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability program. The United States and Papua New Guinea are the only countries in the world without a paid leave law. Because 44 percent of American households don’t have enough savings to cover their basic expenses for three months, families are often forced to choose between taking time off to care for a partner or parent with an unexpected medical emergency or continuing to work so that they can keep their job and health insurance. The crisis is just as bleak for new mothers. Nearly 1 in 4 mothers return to work within two weeks of having a baby. Without the protections of paid leave, new mothers are 40% more likely to need food stamps or public assistance.
Weaving powerful stories together with insightful interviews from leading policy makers, economists, researchers and activists, ZERO WEEKS lays out a compelling argument for guaranteed paid leave for every American worker. The film looks at paid leave from an emotional, medical, financial and global perspective.
ZERO WEEKS is the fourth documentary by award-winning director, Ky Dickens. As a female director, with a track record for creating poignant work known for shifting policy and public opinion, Dickens is an ideal filmmaker to tackle this project. Dickens was inspired to make a film about paid leave, after facing financial depletion, emotional turmoil and guilt of having “not enough time,” due to a lack of paid leave, after the birth of her first child.
Once a fringe issue, paid leave is now central in the national debate. The issue is not just political, it’s smart economics. The three states that have implemented their own policies — California, New Jersey and Rhode Island— have experienced greater economic stability. Companies like Google, which provide over 16 weeks of paid leave, have seen their rates of attrition fall by 50%. Paid leave is not just good for families, relationships, and the health of seniors, parents and children, but it’s beneficial for business and our nation’s ability to compete on a global scale.