Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Informing the Debate: Modeling Proposed Paid Family and Medical Leave Policies in Massachusetts

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 2:10 PM
Merrick II (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Randy Albelda, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Alan Clayton-Matthews, Northeastern University and Raija L. Vaisanen, Commonwealth Corporation
In Massachusetts there is considerable grassroots support to provide paid family and medical leave to those employees in the Commonwealth who lack it. Aside from the provisions of the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, employers that fall under FMLA are not required to provide paid leave in Massachusetts. By current estimates, there are nearly 1 million Massachusetts workers that lack paid leave benefits.[1]Noting the detrimental effect this lack of coverage has on public health and quality of life in Massachusetts, as well as the costs of so-called ‘presenteeism’ to employers, many different stakeholders have put forth proposals to institute paid leave programs in recent legislative history. 

The fate of these proposals has varied, and the obstacles that stand between these proposals and legislative implementation are considerable. One of those obstacles has been the potential cost of such a program. 

Through the U.S. DOL Women’s Bureau Paid Leave Analysis Grant, Massachusetts has undertaken research to help estimate the costs of proposed paid leave programs and inform key stakeholders, the legislature, and the public about the costs and benefits of paid family and medical leave. Professors Randy Albelda (UMass Boston) and Alan Clayton-Matthews (Northeastern) are developing a micro-simulation model that estimates eligibility, take-up, and benefit costs of proposed paid family and medical leave programs. The model will include several policy levers so that it can be used to estimate a variety of paid leave programs in Massachusetts, as well as in other states. The parameters of the model that simulate leave-taking behavior will be estimated from the U.S. DOL Family and Medical Leave survey conducted in 2012 and then the American Community Survey (ACS) will be used to estimate paid leave usage and costs.   The model will allow policy makers to compare the current costs incurred by employees and employers with no paid family and medical leave program in place to those borne with a paid leave program in place.  It also enables users to analyze the distribution of participation and program benefits by demographic characteristics of the population. The proposed paper will frame the debate over the costs and benefits of paid family and medical leave and present the model and preliminary results about the cost of a paid family and medical leave bill under consideration in the Massachusetts legislature. 

[1] Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Valuing Good Health in Massachusetts: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days, 2012