New Analysis: Despite More Than a Year of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Only Modest Gains in the Number of Workers with Access to Paid Family and Medical Leave

Nearly one-quarter of private-sector workers do not have a single paid sick day.

New data from the “U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation: Employee Benefits” survey reveals that there were modest gains in the number of Americans with access to paid family and medical leave over the last year, but the vast majority of working people still lack access. According to the survey, only 23 percent of private-sector workers had access to paid family leave, and only 40 percent of all civilian workers had access to temporary disability insurance. While the pandemic has brought more awareness than ever to the need for family support policies in protecting public health and the U.S. economy, millions of working Americans are still left to choose between caring for a loved one and being in the workforce.

“As women and their families continue to bear the brunt of this pandemic, the need for a national paid leave program has never been clearer,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Congress must act now and seize the opportunity to finally ensure all workers have access to paid family and medical leave and pass the Build Back Better Act.”

The data show that the historic wave of pressure from workers, advocates, and public and private sector leaders has moved some employers to modestly expand their permanent paid sick days and paid leave policies, but not nearly enough. More than three-quarters of civilian workers (77 percent) still lack access to paid family leave through their employers, and six in ten (60 percent) do not have paid medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance. Nearly one-quarter of private-sector workers (23 percent) do not have a single paid sick day.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation: Employee Benefits Survey is a nationwide survey of private industry and state and local governments that provides comprehensive measures of compensation trends and the incidence of employer-sponsored benefits among workers. The NCS also collects data and produces estimates on the provisions of selected employer-sponsored benefit plans. Additional key takeaways from the report include:

Key findings:

  • Only 59 percent of service workers have access to paid sick leave - a significant increase from 45 percent in 2020, but still far short of full coverage for these often public-facing essential workers.
  • 7 percent of the lowest-paid workers have access to paid family leave, compared to 40 percent of highest-paid workers.
  • The number of private-sector workers with access to paid family leave rose by just 3%, and the number of workers with access to paid sick leave rose by 2%.

A comprehensive, national paid family and medical leave program has widespread support from voters and businesses alike. Seventy-five percent of voters across the political spectrum support a comprehensive, inclusive, sustainably funded paid leave plan. A national paid family and medical leave policy would help meet the needs of people at all points in their work lives, from welcoming home a new baby to caring for aging parents.

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.

Media Contact

Gail Zuagar
(202) 986 2600
Email me
Back

Search the News Room