“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
What do the United State and Papua New Guinea have in common? They are the only countries in the world without a paid family leave law. In 2011, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers reported that they had access to paid family leave through their employer. Because 44 percent of American households don’t have enough savings to cover their basic expenses for three months, the birth of a new child or a medical emergency can mean financial ruin. American families are often forced to choose between tending to a spouse or parent with an unexpected medical emergency, or keeping their job and health insurance. The crisis is just as bleak for pregnant American women. Twenty five percent of new mothers return to work within 10 days after giving birth. Without the protections of paid leave, new mothers are 40% more likely to end up on food stamps or public assistance.
Once a fringe issue, paid leave is now central in the national debate. President Obama mentioned it in his State of the Union address and the Department of Labor has spearheaded a “Lead on Leave” tour. It’s not just political, it’s great economics: the three states that have implemented their own policies have experienced greater economic stability. Companies like Google, who have voluntarily offered over 16 weeks of paid leave, have seen their rates of attrition fall by 50%. Paid leave is not just good for families, marriages 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.
Weaving powerful emotional stories together with insightful interviews from leading policy makers, economists, and researchers, 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 trackrecord 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 and struggled with guilt and the emotional turmoil of "not enough time,"due to a lack of paid leave, after the birth of her first child.
Paid leave. It's about time.