Paid Family & Medical Leave

We should all be there for our families when they need us most. Right now, too many families in Wisconsin worry about balancing work, family, and finances when they’re caring for a sick family member, welcoming a new child, or taking care of their health during an extended illness. Millions of hardworking people across America have no guarantee that they won’t miss a critical paycheck when these things happen. Ensuring that everyone has access to paid family and medical leave means that no one will have to choose between a paycheck and taking care of their family. 

As of March 2018, only 16 percent of private-sector workers in the U.S. have access to paid family and medical leave, and those are concentrated in the IT, financial, and professional services industries. 

People and businesses support paid family and medical leave

  • More than eight in 10 voters – including nearly three-quarters of Republicans and overwhelming majorities of voters of all ages and races, in all regions and at all income levels – support a national paid family and medical leave program that covers all employees and provides family, parental, personal medical, and military family leave.
  • Seven in 10 voters – including a majority of Republicans – say they are more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who supports a national paid family and medical leave policy.
  • Four in five voters – including three in five Republicans – support a national paid family and medical leave policy that covers all people who work.
  • According to a Small Business Majority survey of business owners with fewer than 100 workers, seven in 10 small-business owners said they support creating a family and medical leave insurance program funded through employer and employee contributions.

Workers and businesses say paid family and medical leave works

Eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted programs guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, and the experiences of people in those states show that businesses, workers, and their families benefit. A study of the evidence from those state programs by the National Partnership for Women & Families shows that employers across those states reported positive (or neutral) impacts, and workers and families taking advantage of these programs report a variety of improved health and financial outcomes.

Employers benefit from paid family and medical leave

Paid family and medical leave is affordable for employers. California’s program has been in place since 2004, and the vast majority of employers report positive impacts on employee productivity, performance, and profitability (or no effect). Most large and small employers in states with paid family and medical leave support the programs because they make offering the benefit affordable. In California, 87 percent of employers report that the state program has not resulted in any increased costs.

Workers with paid family and medical leave are more likely to return to work

Ensuring people have time off when they need it most helps save businesses money by reducing employee turnover. Women who are able to use paid leave after the birth of a child are 93 percent more likely to return to the workforce within 9-12 months than women who cannot. In California, workers in “low quality” jobs reported returning to the workforce at a 10 percent higher rate after taking advantage of the state’s program.

Paid family and medical leave makes everyone healthier

The experiences of families in states with paid family and medical leave show that the program is associated with a variety of positive health outcomes, particularly for families with new children, including:

  • Reduced risks of family and maternal stress and depression.
  • Improved health and reduced risk of postpartum depression for new mothers.
  • Greater ability for fathers to contribute to child care.
  • Reduced hospitalization rates and increased vaccination rates for infants.

Families in states with paid family and medical leave also reported that it was easier to arrange child care. New mothers with paid leave were also less likely to fall into poverty.

Paid family and medical leave in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a leader in economic growth and job creation. We should follow the example set by eight states and the District of Columbia and pass a paid family and medical leave bill that honors hard work and invests in our families.

Sources:

  • Paid Family Leave in the United States, Congressional Research Service R44835 (updated May 29th 2019). 
  • Fact Sheet: Paid Leave Works: Evidence from State Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families (Sept 2019).
  • Small Businesses Support Paid Family Leave Programs, Small Business Majority (March 2017).

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