Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle speaks during the 2021 Global Citizen Live festival at the Great Law...

Meghan Markle Urges Congress To Put Families Before Politics With Paid Leave

“No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child.”

by Morgan Brinlee

Meghan Markle has urged Congress to put families before politics and pass a federal paid leave program. The Duchess of Sussex wrote to Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in her role as a mother of two to advocate for paid leave, noting no parent should be forced to choose between bringing home an income or caring for a child or loved one.

“The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost,” the Duchess wrote in a letter shared by Paid Leave for All. “For many, this sacrifice goes back further than the past 20 months; it’s 20 or 30 years, even longer — decades of giving time, body, and endless energy not just in the pursuit of the American dream, but simply the dream of stability.”

Although nine states and the District of Columbia already have paid leave laws of some kind, the United States remains the only developed nation that does not guarantee employees paid time off to care for either new children or sick family members, according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research. Currently, Congress is debating a provision to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act that would guarantee 12 weeks of paid family and sick leave.

In her letter, the Duchess of Sussex acknowledged the privilege of her position, noting that although she and Prince Harry were “overwhelmed” following the birth of their second child, they weren’t forced to choose between “spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work.”

“No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child,” she wrote. “In taking care of your child, you take care of your community, and you take care of your country — because when paid leave is a right, we’re creating a foundation that helps address mental health outcomes, health care costs, and economic strength at the starting line.”

The Duchess of Sussex argued that paid leave should be “a national right” rather than something limited only to those who live in states that have established programs or who work for employers that have voluntarily instituted such policies. “If we’re going to create a new era of family first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty,” Markle wrote. “On behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.”