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Group pushing Washington for paid family leave

There's a push in Columbus to get both the Republican and Democratic parties interested in paid family leave during both conventions. (WSYX/WTTE)

There's a push in Columbus to get both the Republican and Democratic parties interested in paid family leave during both conventions.

More than 50,000 people have already signed a petition calling for paid family leave. Only about 13 percent of employees get it from their employer.

"I'm a small business owner. I did the math and I know having a paid leave policy is the right thing to do," said Heather Whaling, the founder of Geben Communications in Downtown Columbus. "It's good for business. It helps us attract and retain top talent."

Whaling offers 12 weeks of full pay for both new moms and dads.

"The cost of having someone leave or having someone come back too early and under-perform is more than the cost of providing the paid leave," Whaling said.

Columbus City Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown found out the hard way. She didn't have paid family leave when she was expecting her first child.

"When I needed it most, my employer didn't offer paid family leave," she said. "Those early weeks of life are absolutely critical and I wanted to have 12 weeks at home with my daughter to establish good nutrition, good pediatric care and the bonding."

Brown said convincing employers to "do the right thing" isn't enough. She's one of many people calling for Democrats and Republicans to make it mandatory nationwide for all employers.

"We can't let people do whatever they want on this issue anymore," Brown said. "We need to have a national conversation about a national solution."

Brown said she's working on a new policy to offer paid family leave for the City's 9000 employees.

Democrats called for 12 weeks of paid family leave in its platform. So far, Republicans have not included paid family leave in its plan.

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