Investors with $1.6 trillion in assets push Congress to back paid leave

By Jessica DiNapoli

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors with assets worth over $1.6 trillion urged Congress on Tuesday to pass a federal paid family and medical leave policy as part of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan, according to a letter viewed by Reuters.

The more than 100 investors, which include public pension funds, state treasurers, and asset managers, said a paid leave policy would help to improve the U.S. economy and make the companies in which they hold shares perform better.

“It’s an economic security issue,” said Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. “We have seen through the pandemic that the U.S. not having this policy has taken women, for example, out of the workforce.

“That’s why we as treasurers and institutional investors are coming to the table because we saw how it impacted communities and investments.”

Trillium Asset Management, a green investing pioneer, and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility organized the letter, which was sent to leaders in Congress including U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“We believe paid leave is a crucial piece of fostering an economy where everyone can prosper,” said Kate Monahan, Trillium’s director of shareholder advocacy.

Lawmakers have been trying to avert a government shutdown, and agree on a tax and social spending package. Some leading Democrats have said the $3.5 trillion price tag of the social spending package is too high.

The investor letter says the policy should include leaving for new parents, for people who need to care for an ill family member, and to address one’s own serious sickness.

(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli; editing by Barbara Lewis)