National Partnership for Women & Families

The Verdict Is In: Nation's First Paid Family Leave Program An Unqualified Success, Women's Leader Says

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — January 13, 2011 —
"Leaves That Pay, the report on California’s historic paid family leave program released yesterday by Dr. Eileen Appelbaum, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Dr. Ruth Milkman, professor of sociology at City University of New York, provides compelling evidence of the value and benefits of paid family leave policies in this country. Employers, working parents, and lawmakers who are committed to meeting the needs of today’s working families should take note.

For six years, our nation’s first statewide paid family leave program in California has been a kind of test for the rest of the country. The verdict is finally in: An overwhelming majority of employers and workers report positive effects from the program—proving that the most common objections to giving workers the right to paid family leave are unfounded, and demonstrating that these policies make a real difference in the lives of working families.

According to the report, nearly 87 percent of employers have experienced no significant cost increases as a result of California’s paid leave program. In fact, more than 89 percent found that the program had an unnoticeable or positive effect on their productivity, profitability, and turnover. For employees, the program has been particularly beneficial to working parents in low-quality jobs who have no health care benefits. Ninety-one percent of those who took paid leave to bond with a new child identified a positive effect on their ability to care for their family.

With more and more families depending on at least two incomes, and employer policies failing to keep up with the needs of the workforce, working families today are struggling more than ever to manage competing work and family responsibilities. The success of California’s paid leave program should prove to lawmakers in other states — and at the federal level — that setting a paid family leave standard is a critical step in helping many more workers meet the needs of their families.

We commend Drs. Appelbaum and Milkman for their incredibly important work to gather and present these valuable findings. They have shown the rest of the country that it is time to follow California’s lead by adopting the common sense paid leave policies working families need."

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at

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