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Paid family leave

Health Factors: Employment
Decision Makers: Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Paid family leave provides employees with paid time off for circumstances such as a recent birth or adoption, a parent or spouse with a serious medical condition, or a sick child. Some employers allow the use of paid time off for these purposes rather than designating such leave as family leave. Paid family leave may be provided through employers or as a form of state-provided insurance. Paid family leave may not be job-protected, and is distinct from the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides eligible employees with at least 12 work weeks of job-protected leave without pay. Some local governments cannot enact such measures due to state preemption legislation (Grassroots Change).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased use of parental leave
Improved health outcomes
Improved mental health
Increased preventive care
Increased breastfeeding rates
Reduced infant mortality
Improved well-being
Improved economic security

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that paid family leave increases use of parental leave to care for children after birth (Rossin Slater 2013, McGovern 2000) and to provide care to sick children (McGovern 2000, Heymann 1999). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Paid leave may improve overall child and family health and well-being, and contribute to greater family economic security (Schuster 2009). Such leave is associated with improved mental health in those caring for family members with special health care needs (Earle 2011). Access to paid leave of any type can increase the likelihood of parents taking leave when their children have health problems (Heymann 2013, Heymann 1999), especially in families with low incomes (Clemans-Cope 2008), or children with special health care needs (Chung 2007). Paid parental leave may also increase access to immunizations and other preventive care (Heymann 2013).

Expansion of paid maternity and parental leave can increase the time parents spend with their infants following birth (Rossin Slater 2013, McGovern 2000) and increase breastfeeding duration (Borrell 2014, Heymann 2013). Employed mothers who have a longer delay returning to work after giving birth may experience fewer depressive symptoms than those who take leave but return to work earlier (Borrell 2014, Chatterji 2012). When receiving partial wage replacement benefits, parents with low incomes may return to work earlier than parents with higher incomes (Evans 2007).

In other developed nations, access to paid, job-protected parental leave has been shown to reduce infant and child mortality (Heymann 2011, Tanaka 2005), with longer durations resulting in greater reductions in death among infants and young children (Ruhm 2000). Paid, job-protected leave also appears to reduce the likelihood of low birthweight births (Tanaka 2005).

Implementation

United States

Legislation guarantees paid leave for eligible employees in several cities and three states, California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Washington state passed a paid leave law but its implementation has been delayed until 2015 (NCSL-Leave). State legislation pre-empts laws related to leave in 13 states (Grassroots Change).

Public provision of leave for all eligible families through paid family leave insurance (PFLI), offered in California and New Jersey, is another model of paid family leave (Earle 2011). California’s PFLI replaces 55 percent of wages for eligible workers for 6 weeks, but does not provide job protection (RAND-PFLI 2010). California’s paid family leave insurance has not led to an increase in use of parental leave among parents of children with special health care needs, possibly because of lack of knowledge of PFLI, limited benefit levels, or the lack of job protection (RAND-PFLI 2010).

Wisconsin

There is no statewide paid leave requirement in Wisconsin. Employers with more than 50 workers are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees (US DOL-FMLA). 

Implementation Resources

CA EDD-Family leave - State of California Employment Development Department (EDD). Paid family leave. Accessed on January 11, 2016
NJ LWD-Family leave - State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD). Family leave insurance. Accessed on November 18, 2015

Citations - Description

Grassroots Change - Grassroots Change. Connecting for better health. Accessed on February 13, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Borrell 2014* - Borrell C, Palencia L, Muntaner C, et al. Influence of macrosocial policies on women's health and gender inequalities in health. Epidemiologic Reviews. 2014;36(1):31-48. Accessed on December 10, 2015
Chatterji 2012* - Chatterji P, Markowitz S. Family leave after childbirth and the mental health of new mothers. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics. 2012;15(2):61–76. Accessed on November 19, 2015
Chung 2007 - Chung PJ, Garfield CF, Elliott MN, et al. Need for and use of family leave among parents of children with special health care needs. Pediatrics. 2007;119(5):e1047-55. Accessed on December 8, 2015
Clemans-Cope 2008 - Clemans-Cope L, Perry CD, Kenney GM, Pelletier JE, Pantell MS. Access to and use of paid sick leave among low-income families with children. Pediatrics. 2008;122(2):e480-6. Accessed on December 10, 2015
Earle 2011 - Earle A, Heymann J. Protecting the health of employees caring for family members with special health care needs. Social Science & Medicine. 2011;73(1):68-78. Accessed on December 30, 2015
Evans 2007 - Evans PM. Comparative perspectives on changes to Canada’s paid parental leave: Implications for class and gender. International Journal of Social Welfare. 2007;16(2):119–28. Accessed on February 5, 2016
Heymann 1999 - Heymann SJ, Toomey S, MPhil, Furstenberg F. Working parents: What factors are involved in their ability to take time off from work when their children are sick? Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 1999;153(8):870–4. Accessed on November 18, 2015
Heymann 2011 - Heymann J, Raub A, Earle A. Creating and using new data sources to analyze the relationship between social policy and global health: The case of maternal leave. Public Health Reports. 2011;126(Suppl 3):127–34. Accessed on November 19, 2015
Heymann 2013* - Heymann J, Earle A, McNeill K. The impact of labor policies on the health of young children in the context of economic globalization. Annual Review of Public Health. 2013;34:355–72. Accessed on November 9, 2015
McGovern 2000* - McGovern P, Dowd B, Gjerdingen D, et al. The determinants of time off work after childbirth. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. 2000;25(3):527–64. Accessed on November 9, 2015
Rossin Slater 2013* - Rossin-Slater M, Ruhm C, Waldfogel J. The effects of California’s paid family leave program on mothers' leave-taking and subsequent labor market outcomes. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 2013;32(2):224–45. Accessed on November 20, 2015
Ruhm 2000* - Ruhm CJ. Parental leave and child health. Journal of Health Economics. 2000;19(6):931–60. Accessed on January 14, 2016
Schuster 2009 - Schuster MA, Chung PJ, Elliott MN, et al. Perceived effects of leave from work and the role of paid leave among parents of children with special health care needs. American Journal of Public Health. 2009;99(4):698–705. Accessed on May 24, 2016
Tanaka 2005* - Tanaka S. Parental leave and child health across OECD countries. Economic Journal. 2005;115(501):F7-F28. Accessed on May 24, 2016

Citations - Implementation

Earle 2011 - Earle A, Heymann J. Protecting the health of employees caring for family members with special health care needs. Social Science & Medicine. 2011;73(1):68-78. Accessed on December 30, 2015
Grassroots Change - Grassroots Change. Connecting for better health. Accessed on February 13, 2017
NCSL-Leave - National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). State family medical leave and parental leave laws. Accessed on November 17, 2015
RAND-PFLI 2010 - Schuster MA, Chung PJ, Elliott MN, et al. Perceived effects of paid family leave among parents of children with special health care needs: California’s experience. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation; 2010: Research Brief 9445. Accessed on May 24, 2016
US DOL-FMLA - US Department of Labor (US DOL). Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Accessed on March 3, 2017

Page Last Updated

April 23, 2014

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