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Welcome to the YOLO Economy

In addition to the job-hopping you’d expect during boom times, the pandemic has created many more remote jobs, and expanded the number of companies willing to hire outside of big, coastal cities. That has given workers in remote-friendly industries, such as tech and finance, more leverage to ask for what they want.

“Employees have a totally unprecedented ability to negotiate in the next 18 to 48 months,” said Johnathan Nightingale, an author and a co-founder of Raw Signal Group, a management training firm. “If I, as an individual, am dissatisfied with the current state of my employment, I have so many more options than I used to have.”

Individual YOLO decisions can be chalked up to many factors: cabin fever, low interest rates, the emergence of new get-rich-quick schemes like NFTs and meme stocks. But many seem related to a deeper, generational disillusionment, and a feeling that the economy is changing in ways that reward the crazy and punish the cautious.

Several people in their late 20s and early 30s — mostly those who went to good schools, work in high-prestige industries and would never be classified as “essential workers” — told me that the pandemic had destroyed their faith in the traditional white-collar career path. They had watched their independent-minded peers getting rich by joining start-ups or gambling on cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, their bosses were drowning them in mundane work, or trying to automate their jobs, and were generally failing to support them during one of the hardest years of their lives.

“The past year has been telling for how companies really value their work forces,” said Latesha Byrd, a career coach in Charlotte, N.C. “It has become challenging to continue to work for companies who operate business as usual, without taking into account how our lives have changed overnight.”

Ms. Byrd, who primarily coaches women of color in fields like tech, finance and media, said that in addition to suffering from pandemic-related burnout, many minority employees felt disillusioned with their employers’ shallow commitments to racial justice.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are extremely important now,” she said. “Employees want to know, ‘Is this company going to support me?’”

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New Zealand Approves Paid Leave After Miscarriage

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would give couples who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth three days’ paid leave, putting the country in the vanguard of those providing such benefits.

Ginny Andersen, the Labour member of Parliament who drafted the bill, said she had not been able to find comparable legislation anywhere in the world. “We may well be the first country,” she said, adding, “But all the countries that New Zealand is usually compared to legislate for the 20-week mark.”

Employers in New Zealand, as in some other countries, had already been required to provide paid leave in the event of a stillbirth, when a fetus is lost after a gestation of 20 weeks or more. The new legislation will expand that leave to anyone who loses a pregnancy at any point, removing any ambiguity. The measure is expected to become law in the coming weeks.

“I felt that it would give women the confidence to be able to request that leave if it was required, as opposed to just being stoic and getting on with life, when they knew that they needed time, physically or psychologically, to get over the grief,” Ms. Andersen said.

decriminalized abortion last year, ending the country’s status as one of the few wealthy nations to limit the grounds for ending a pregnancy in the first half.

In Australia, people who miscarry are entitled to unpaid leave if they lose a fetus after 12 weeks, while in Britain, would-be parents who experience a stillbirth after 24 weeks are eligible for paid leave. The United States does not require employers to provide leave for anyone who suffers a miscarriage.

Up to 20 percent of all known pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, according to the Mayo Clinic. In New Zealand, whose population is five million, the Ministry of Health estimates that one to two pregnancies in 10 will end in miscarriage.

The charity Sands New Zealand, which supports parents who have lost a pregnancy, says 5,900 to 11,800 miscarriages or stillbirths occur each year. More than 95 percent of the miscarriages occur in the first 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, according to data from the New Zealand College of Midwives.

A miscarriage or stillbirth remains a fraught and painful topic, one that is difficult to talk about publicly or seek support for, health advocates say.

“If you ring the hospital saying, ‘I think I’m miscarrying my baby,’ so many women will say, ‘I felt like I was the first person in the world to be miscarrying,’” said Vicki Culling, an educator about baby loss who has pushed for better support for bereaved parents in New Zealand.

“The foundations of your world just crumble, because you expect to have this beautiful baby, and when that baby dies, whether it’s in utero or soon after birth, everything is shattered.”

Ms. Culling applauded the New Zealand legislation as a first step but said there was more to be done.

“You get three days’ paid leave, maybe you bury your baby or you have a service, and then you go back to work, and you carry on — and then what? That’s my concern,” she said.

“I’m celebrating it, but I want to see us keeping this compassion going, and looking further into the needs of these parents.”

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Congressional Aides Unite to Push for Change at the Capitol After the Riot

WASHINGTON — After the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, Herline Mathieu knew things had to change.

As president of the Congressional Black Associates, one of a hodgepodge of organizations on Capitol Hill that represent the aides who serve members of the House and Senate, she heard from scores of fellow staff members who did not want to return to the complex after the violence and racism of the riot.

“I spoke with at least 60 members who were just really concerned about their safety,” said Ms. Mathieu, a legislative aide.

One staff member told her bluntly, “I don’t know if I can work here.”

So Ms. Mathieu began to organize, a relatively rare endeavor for employees in Congress, which is exempt from most labor laws, including occupational safety and anti-discrimination statutes.

disparate treatment that Black Lives Matter protesters received from law enforcement compared with the relatively restrained tactics used against the pro-Trump mob.

“Many of my members, we marched last summer in the protests against police brutality,” Ms. Mathieu said. “We were overwhelmed with the security.”

But in their push for a safer environment, the aides are also pressing to ensure that the Capitol Police does not resort to racial profiling or cracking down on minority groups in response to the latest rash of violence.

“We’ve seen in post-9/11 that South Asians have been disproportionately profiled,” said Nishith Pandya, the president of the Congressional South Asian-American Staff Association and the legislative director for Representative Bobby L. Rush, Democrat of Illinois. “It is very clear who the perpetrators of this attack were, and it’s nobody who looks like the people here. Yet we all have to be concerned about racial profiling because of how this country has reacted to attacks like this before.”

congressional aides have reported trouble sleeping and feeling anxious, claustrophobic, angry and depressed. Lawmakers have requested additional resources to support the mental health needs of employees in response to surging demand.

Ms. Pelosi has pledged to spend what is necessary to make sure the Capitol is safe.

“It’s going to take more money,” she said at a recent news conference, “to protect the Capitol in a way that enables people to come here, children to come and see our democracy in action, all of you to cover what happens here safely, members to be comfortable that they are safe when they are here.”

The organizing after Jan. 6 is not the first time some of the staff associations have joined forces. In November, a task force from the Congressional Black Associates and Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus produced a policy report on racial justice and reform. Several of the groups had previously teamed up to work on a campaign to increase diversity among Capitol Hill staff.

According to a 2019 survey of about 10,000 House employees — about half of whom responded — nearly 70 percent of employees are white, compared with nearly 15 percent Black, 12 percent Hispanic and nearly 7 percent Asian.

Kameelah Pointer, the president of the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus and an aide to Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, said the 9/11-style commission should include a racially diverse team. Ms. Pointer said that would be vital to “analyze how race played a role” in the failure to adequately prepare for the Capitol rampage, which was led by supporters of President Donald J. Trump and included white supremacist and extremist groups.

The organizations say they will watch the commission closely and ask for more meetings with leadership.

“This won’t be the last time that we work together to address the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack,” Ms. Ramirez said.

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British Law Highlights Parental Leave for Lawmakers

Measures that grant workers paid time off when they become parents have not always benefited the lawmakers who have created the rules.

In Britain this week, Parliament updated the law so that senior government officials could take paid maternity leave without needing to resign their posts.

Only a few countries, including the United States, do not mandate paid parental leave at the national level.

Here is a look at how politicians around the world have navigated parenthood.

On Tuesday, Britain’s attorney general, Suella Braverman, became the country’s first cabinet official to take paid maternity leave without stepping down from her post, after Parliament changed a law that would have required her to do so.

Ministerial and Other Maternity Allowances Act, one of Ms. Braverman’s colleagues will temporarily fill her role during the six months that she is on leave.

“I may be the first, but I won’t be the last,” Ms. Braverman said on Twitter.

Although some welcomed the change as long overdue, critics said the measure was rushed through to benefit Ms. Braverman and objected to the fact that the new rules did not apply to all members of Parliament, who are paid their full salary while on leave but who are not guaranteed to have a replacement.

While Britain’s new law makes provisions for six months’ paid maternity leave, it does not offer similar benefits for new fathers in the cabinet, beyond the country’s statutory two weeks’ paternity leave. Of the 26 ministers who attend Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet meetings, 21 are men.

Even in countries that guarantee a long paternity leave, men do not always take it.

Last year, Japan’s environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, was praised for setting a strong example for the country’s famously workaholic fathers when he announced that he would take time off to care for his newborn child.

Still, he said he planned to take only two weeks of paternity leave spread over three months, despite being entitled to up to a year, like all new fathers in Japan.

returned to her post within a week of her daughter’s birth, despite being guaranteed 10 weeks off under French law.

Two years later, a politician in Spain, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, faced intense scrutiny after skipping her right to six weeks of paid maternity leave and returning to work within 11 days of giving birth.

Benazir Bhutto became the first elected head of government to give birth while in office when she was the prime minister of Pakistan in 1990, and later reportedly wrote, “The next day I was back on the job, reading government papers and signing government files.”

There are countries leading the way in encouraging lawmakers to take parental leave and making accessible policies to allow them to do so.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand took six weeks of leave after the birth of her daughter in 2018, passing her duties to her deputy.

overhauled its parental leave policy for lawmakers in 2019. At the time, lawmakers were penalized for long absences not involving illness or official business. They were also not entitled to parental leave because they did not pay into employment insurance and had to rely on their party to work out a leave arrangement on a case-by-case basis.

Now, Canadian lawmakers — regardless of their gender — can take up to a year of paid parental leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

The United States and Ireland are among the countries without formalized policies of parental leave for elected officials at the national level, leaving lawmakers to make ad hoc arrangements for paid time off within their party.

“It goes back to a historical legacy of institutions not really having to face up to this issue until quite recently and then being reluctant to address it because they consider that the informal approach is more than adequate,” said Professor Childs of Royal Holloway, University of London.

In 2018, when Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, became the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office, she told The Guardian that the lack of formalized parental leave made her feel like the Senate “is actually in the 19th century as opposed to the 21st somehow.”

While Ms. Duckworth took 12 weeks’ parental leave (and brought her infant daughter onto the Senate floor), she said it was a “reflection of a real need for more women in leadership across our country.”

In Ireland, the minister for justice, Helen McEntee, is set to become the country’s first senior cabinet minister to give birth while in office.

said in an interview in January.

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