Should companies offer better policies?
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not require companies to offer paid leave to its workers to care for a baby, a sick relative or themselves. That is changing slowly, economists say, as more companies recognize that it makes business sense to provide paid leave to their employers. Silicon Valley, which is in a recruiting war with its tech rivals for the best talent, has taken the lead in offering more-generous time-off policies. But outside of the technology sector, many businesses—especially small ones—find it impractical or too expensive to offer paid leave. As few as 6 percent of low-wage earners can take paid maternity leave, and more than 40 percent of U.S. employees have no paid sick days.
Among the key takeaways:
In the absence of federal guidance on the issue, talent-hungry corporations are writing their own rules in an effort to recruit and retain skilled young employees.
President Trump during the 2016 campaign became the first Republican nominee to endorse paid maternity leave, but he has not pushed to enact such a policy.
One survey found that 45 percent of firms with fewer than 100 employees would support a mandatory leave policy funded through employer and employee payroll contributions.
Resources for Further Study
Boushey, Heather, “Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict,” Harvard University Press, 2016. The executive director of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a research and grant-making organization, says a changing economy—one in which women work instead of stay home full time to raise their children—requires employers to provide the resources working mothers need to care for family members.
Gordon, Victoria . “Maternity Leave: Policy and Practice,” CRC Press, 2013. An associate political science professor at Western Kentucky University, who has interviewed women who took maternity leave, says there is a disconnect between policy and practice.
Sholar, Megan, “Getting Paid While Taking Time: The Women’s Movement and the Development of Paid Family Leave Policies in the United States,” Temple University Press, 2016. A Loyola University Chicago instructor explains the development of family leave policies in the United States, and notes that most innovations in family policies have originated at the state level.
Berman, Russell, “A Conservative Push for Paid Family Leave,” The Atlantic, Aug. 15, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Bernard, Tara Siegel, “In Paid Family Leave, U.S. Trails Most of the Globe,” The New York Times, Feb. 22, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Miller, Claire Cain, “Americans Agree on Paid Leave, but Not on Who Should Pay,” The New York Times, March 23, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Murphy, Robert P., “‘Paid Family Leave’ Is a Great Way to Hurt Women,” Foundation for Economic Education, June 2, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Rogers, Megan, “Why New York businesses oppose paid family leave proposal,” Albany Business Review, March 25, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Warner, Judith, and Danielle Corley, “In the Absence of U.S. Action on Paid Leave, Multinationals Make Their Own Policies,” Center for American Progress, Nov. 17, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Americans Widely Support Paid Family and Medical Leave, but Differ Over Specific Policies,” Pew Research Center, March 23, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
“The Economics of Paid and Unpaid Leave,” Council of Economic Advisers, June 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
“Employer Costs for Employee Compensation—December 2016,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, March 17, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
“Paid Time Off Programs and Practices,” WorldatWork, September 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
“Why Paid Family Leave Is Good Business,” Boston Consulting Group, Feb. 7, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Gitis, Ben, “The Earned Income Leave Benefit: Rethinking Family Leave for Low-Income Workers,” American Action Forum, Aug. 15, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Ray, Rebecca, Milla Sanes and John Schmitt, “No-Vacation Nation Revisited,” Center for Economic and Policy Institute, May 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Zagorsky, Jay L., “Divergent Trends in US Maternity and Paternity Leave, 1994-2015,” American Journal of Public Health, March 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Bort, Julie, “Sheryl Sandberg on tragically losing her husband: ‘I’m a different person now,’” Business Insider, April 24, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Kharpal, Arjun, “Tech firms are giving staff paid leave for political engagements amid fear of immigration crackdown,” CNBC, April 18, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Lewis, Cora, “Women Ironworkers Will Get Six Months Of Paid Maternity Leave,” BuzzFeed News, April 17, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Bruner, Raisa, “Chinese Workers at Factory for Ivanka Trump’s Clothing Maker Earn About $62 a Week: Report,” Time, April 25, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Millington, Alison, “Italy could soon offer women three days of paid menstrual leave each month,” Business Insider, March 29, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Singhi, Namrata, “Microsoft India employees to get family caregiver leave,” The Times of India, April 24, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Blau, Reuven, “JetBlue hit with suit for violating New York paid sick leave law,” New York Daily News, April 1, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Hopkins, Kathleen, “Ocean County judge sues, claims discrimination,” Asbury Park Press, April 25, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Salazar, Martin, “Lawsuit targets proposed sick leave ordinance,” Albuquerque Journal, April 3, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Booker, Christopher, and Connie Kargbo, “Can Rhode Island’s paid family leave be a national model?” PBS NewsHour, April 16, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Dawson, James, “State lawmakers considering family leave bills,” Delaware Public Media, April 23, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Sagarin, Susan, “D.C. Enacts Paid Family Leave But Lacks Funding For Implementation,” Bloomberg BNA, April 17, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
The American Action Forum
1747 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20006
A self-described center-right nonprofit that focuses on domestic policy challenges such as paid leave, health care and tax reform.
Center for American Progress
1333 H St., N.W., Washington, DC 20005
An independent, nonpartisan policy institute dedicated to developing new policy ideas in areas such as criminal justice, disability, the economy, education and women.
Center for Economic and Policy Research
1611 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20009
An organization of economists who promote democratic debate on economic and social issues through professional research and public education.
Center for WorkLife Law
200 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA 94102
Women’s leadership organization at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law that focuses on jumpstarting “the stalled gender revolution.”
Families & Work Institute
245 5th Ave., #1002, New York, NY 10016
A nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce and workplace, as well as the changing family.
National Partnership for Women and Families
1875 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 650, Washington, DC 20009
Formerly known as the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, this nonpartisan organization promotes fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to affordable health care and work-family policies for working parents.
Pew Research Center
1615 L St., N.W., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036
A nonpartisan “fact tank” that conducts public opinion polls and demographic research, and informs the public about issues involving politics, media, technology, religion, global attitudes and demographic trends.
PL+US (Paid Leave For the United States)
2973 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94110
A new advocacy organization whose mission is to win paid family leave by engaging Americans at the grass-roots level.
Work and Family Researchers Network
c/o the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 3620 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6302
A membership association of interdisciplinary work and family scholars that oversees an open-access work and family subject matter repository.
14040 N. Northsight Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260
A membership organization for human resources professionals that bills itself as “the total rewards association.” Its focus is compensation, benefits and work/life effectiveness.