Editor’s note: Kevin Jesequel is a dad from Oregon who wrote to Secretary Tom Perez about the need for paid leave. Here is his letter. Read letters from other dads here.
Dear Mr. Secretary,
My name is Kevin Jesequel and I am an electrician. I live in Oregon with my wife and our four children. Our oldest is 15 and our youngest just turned 1.
Being in the construction industry means that work isn’t steady or reliable for me and my family, so when there is work, I can’t afford to take any time off. When my youngest was born early in 2015, I couldn’t afford to take more than a couple of days to be with her and my family.
The medical bills for the birth were high. My wife and I were truly worried about how we would make ends meet, cover the expensive bills and still be able to make time for our whole family to be together without constantly stressing about money.
On top of our financial fears, my wife had a difficult recovery – she could hardly walk for nearly a week after, and it was really hard for her to take care of the baby by herself. It would have made a big difference for our whole family if I could have been home to help.
Giving men the option for paid family leave would change the whole dynamic of families. It would allow for fathers to build a strong bond right from the start, and it helps to level the playing field in the workplace because both men and women would be expected to take time off for a baby or other family needs. It would also change children’s lives, because their father could be more involved.
Many men like myself want to take time off from work to care for their families, but are unable to do so because of finances and the fear of losing our jobs. That’s why I am excited that Oregon is considering family and medical leave insurance legislation – it would be a game changer for families like mine.
We want to hear from other dads (and moms): How would having paid family leave make a difference for your family? If you have paid leave already, how does it help you now? Share your story at dol.gov/PaidLeave.