As the debate over a national paid leave plan heats up mdash; both in Congress and on the campaign trail mdash; today the National Partnership for Women & Families, in partnership with Main Street Alliance, the National Center for Children in Poverty and Dr. Sarah Jane Glynn, released Meeting the Promise of Paid Leave: Best Practices in Program Implementation in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, a report that explores how state paid family and medical leave programs are working, and who they are working for. Accompanying the report are three issue briefs that provide insights on paid leave best practices for small employers, health professionals, and lawmakers and advocates. The full report and issue briefs are available here.
Among other key findings, the report concludes that while low- and middle-income people make up a substantial share of program users, the lowest-income workers in New Jersey and California are not taking a representative share of leave, and suggests that adequate wage replacement, job protection and improved public outreach are essential for these workers to be able to access the leave they need. While concern for employers mdash; particularly small businesses mdash; is often cited as a reason to oppose paid family and medical leave programs, the report found no evidence that these programs are burdensome to employers. In fact, nearly 7 in 10 small employers surveyed for the report would support a national paid family and medical leave policy.
“State paid family and medical leave programs have benefitted millions of working people, and as federal policymakers consider a national policy, it is essential to ensure that these policies are working well for all people, particularly workers with low incomes,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “Low-wage workers and women of color often face barriers to accessing paid leave including not being able to financially afford to take time off or worrying about whether they will have a job to come back to. We hope this comprehensive study will inform state and federal policymakers as they design and administer paid leave plans in a way that allows all people to take leave when they need to welcome a new child, hold the hand of a dying parent or seek care for their own serious medical issue.”
The report’s findings are based on interviews with nearly 90 stakeholders — including working people, program administrators, employers, public health professionals and representatives of community organizations. These stakeholder interviews inform the report’s recommendations for program design, rollout, administration and public outreach.
Policymakers across the political spectrum are acknowledging the need for a national paid family and medical leave program. A national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave program is overwhelmingly popular among voters. The need for paid leave will only increase as our workforce and population ages and as we see growth in the labor force participation of women likely to give birth. Currently eight states and the District of Columbia have or will soon have paid family and medical leave policies in place, but the United States remains the only high-wealth nation that does not guarantee any type of national paid leave.
The full report and issue briefs are available at NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeaveReport.
About the National Partnership
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.