The Importance Of Paid Leave To Working Families

Family First


It may be no surprise that many American children grow up in a home with two working parents, but it’s worth noting that the group continues to grow. In 2010, the number reached 72.3%, an increase of 13% since the mid-1980s, according to a study by Rutgers University’s Center for Women and Work. The report, Pay Matters: The Positive Economic Impacts of Paid Family Leave for Families, Businesses and the Public Changes, indicates the need for workplace and public policies that allow workers to better manage the demands of home without loss of compensation and job status, and that the U.S. lags behind many industrialized nations in acknowledging its importance. Here are some of the findings:

  • As of March 2011, a mere 11% of private sector workers and 17% of public sector workers report having access to paid family leave; among those earning in the bottom quarter of wages, those percentages drop to 5% and 14% respectively.
  • A recent U.S. Census Bureau report concludes that between 2006 and 2008, 50.8% of women who were employed during pregnancy used some form of paid leave after their child’s birth. The likelihood of reporting paid leave was higher for women in several categories: those 25 and over, white women, married women, and women with a college education. Only a third of working mothers without post—secondary education reported paid leave time.
  • Analysis of the data projects the likelihood of an average woman returning to her company at nine to 12 months postpartum at 76.6% for a woman with paid leave; 63% for a woman that takes no paid leave.