How to Build a Paid Family Leave Plan That Doesn’t Backfire

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“There’s no research-based reason why you should go 12 weeks,” said Maya Rossin-Slater, Stanford economist and expert on parental leave policies. “There is nothing you gain, and in fact you lose some of the benefits, like breastfeeding, maternal mental health, and childhood immunizations. “

The Biden plan, for now, would not provide job protection. Democrats are trying to pass the legislation in a process called fiscal reconciliation, which requires new policies to directly affect revenue and spending. A job protection mandate would not be admissible.

Some workers would still enjoy job protection, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, but this excludes almost half of workers, including those in companies with less than 50 employees and those who are employed for less than a year.

When paid leave does not include job protection, a significant proportion of workers are unlikely to take it even if they are eligible, Studies show – especially Hispanic workers, those with low incomes, those who work in small businesses and those who work part-time or change jobs frequently.

“My point is that if time off isn’t job protected, it’s hardly time off,” said Christopher Ruhm, professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia. “You’re going to have a lot of people who are very hesitant to use it, so it loses a lot of its benefits.”

The plan would pay two-thirds of the average weekly wage of most workers, up to $ 4,000 a month, and 85% of low-wage wages, around $ 1,000 a month.

Greater wage replacement for low-income workers has been shown to increase the chances that they will take it, the researchers said, although the lowest earners may need an almost full wage replacement to afford a time off. California, which became the first state to pass paid vacation in 2002, increased the share of replacement benefits in 2016 from 55% to 70% for low-paid workers. Utilization rates have increased for those earning $ 20,000 or more, but not for those earning less.


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