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US Women’s Soccer Champions Equal Pay

Patrick Ball on April 01, 2016 03:29 PM

From soccer champions championing a new cause to a sweeping paid leave policy approved in the Empire State, here’s a quick look at some of the work-life news we’ve been following this week … and will be re-reading this weekend.  

US Women’s Soccer Team Tackles Wage Gap Issues

World champion soccer stars are championing a new cause this week as five of the most recognizable faces from the US Women’s National Team have accused their employer, the US Soccer Federation, of pay discrimination.

In a federal complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the players allege that they “earn a fraction of their male counterparts” for team appearances, prize money allocations, bonuses and other compensation despite significantly more on-field success and projected revenues.

The five leading the players’ cause are captain Carli Lloyd, goalkeeper Hope Solo, striker Alex Morgan, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and defender Becky Sauerbrunn. In an exclusive interview with the TODAY Show, the stars explained it’s their job to fight for equal pay, as the generation before them had done as well. “We believe it’s our responsibility,” said Solo, “To do whatever it takes.”

Fittingly, news of the National Team’s equal pay complaint came at the close of Women’s History Month. Solo said she wants the focus to be on the three-time World Cup and back-to-back-to-back Olympic Gold medal-winning team’s next attempt at making history.

When they work as hard as male players and achieve more on-field, the women say they want to be appreciated by their federation – their employer – as much as male players. However, when they’ve breached the subject, they’ve been told the complaint is “irrational,” and they should be grateful that they’re paid to play soccer professionally, according to reports.

“That might be a good answer in 1816,” their lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, told the TODAY Show.  “It’s not an acceptable answer in 2016.”

Nope. It’s not. That’s why this is such a big story – one that could just be the first of many on the gender equality front as we approach Equal Pay Day on April 12.

New York’s New Paid Leave Policy Is Nation’s Most Comprehensive

Employers in New York will be required to offer up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for new parents and other family caregivers, according to a policy approved in a budget deal this week.

Under the policy, which will be phased in over a three-year period starting in 2018, women and men will be able to take up paid time off for the birth, adoption of fostering of a child. Taking time off to care for a seriously ill family member will be covered under the mandate, as well.

The build to full implementation of the policy will be gradual. Starting in 2018, full- and part-time employees who’ve been at their job for six months will be able to collect 50 percent of pay for eight weeks of paid leave. That will increase to 10 weeks in 2019 and 2020, before peaking at 12 weeks of family leave paid at 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage in 2021.

The paid leave policy won’t cost employers directly – it’ll be funded through weekly paycheck deductions – coming out to about $1 per week, according to Mashable.  With the passage of this plan, New York becomes the fifth state to put a paid leave mandate in place. Touted as the nation’s most “radical,” the New York policy surpasses the length of leave in the other states; California and New Jersey guarantee six weeks of paid leave, and Rhode Island four.

Meanwhile, the US remains the only developed nation in the world without a policy mandating paid leave for new mothers after the birth of a child.

As more cities and states approve and enact paid leave programs, could they be paving the way for a federal policy in our future? Or will Papua New Guinea get there first?

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