National and State Analyses of Family and Sick Leave Policies
(Family and Child Policy)
Friday, November 13, 2015: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Merrick II (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Christina Yancey, U.S. Department of Labor
Panel Chairs: Megan Lizik, U.S. Department of Labor
Discussants: Sharon Wolf, New York University; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Pronita Gupta, U.S. Department of Labor
Across the United States, legislatures at the federal, state, and local levels are grappling with whether to mandate or expand paid sick days and family leave for America’s workers. While the 1993 federal law, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), mandated that eligible workers receive twelve weeks of job protection to manage family issues such as newborn care or illness, the law provides only unpaid time off and limits eligibility to businesses employing at least fifty people within seventy-five miles of the work site. Since FMLA’s passage, five states and more than sixteen local governments have enacted laws to provide partial wage replacement for medical leave and for parents to care for newborns or newly-adopted children. A recent swell of legislation is bringing increased attention to this issue. During the 2015 legislative session, thirty-four state legislatures have introduced and/or are considering laws that would mandate or expand paid sick days, paid family leave, or expand the use of paid or unpaid leave. Further, at the federal level, both major parties have developed legislation to expand upon FMLA benefits.
With the recent surge of interest in paid leave, results from the states that have already enacted expanded benefits will provide timely and useful evidence to understand the benefits and challenges moving forward. To support rigorous analyses of the effects of current, as well as proposed, paid leave laws on labor force activity, employment, earnings, and the business community, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) funded three research studies in 2014. These studies explore leave patterns and usage across the nation, states, and individuals over the past 15 years. Further, they analyze how the current policies may affect different populations and geographies depending on changes in the benefit structure (i.e., length of time and benefit amount) and the funding mechanism of the programs.
During this APPAM panel on DOL’s funded research on paid leave, the presenters will share a variety of quantitative analyses reflecting the range of the legislative environment. One presenter will share findings from California, the first state to pass a paid leave law, and discuss effects on paternity leave-taking behaviors. Another will focus on the policy options and likely effects in Massachusetts, one of the latest states to debate the adoption of a family leave law. The third presenter will explore a full national landscape of paid leave, contrasting the variety of policy options and simulating effects of these options on workers and businesses.
The panel has the privilege of two discussants, each providing unique perspectives on the presenters’ papers. One discussant represents the DOL’s Women’s Bureau, the only federal agency dedicated solely to concerns of women in the workforce. The second discussant is a poverty researcher from the University of Wisconsin, with expertise on the family wellbeing effects of paid leave policies.