Istock Bills

New Pew Report Shows Crucial Need for Paid Family and Medical Leave

A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans support comprehensive paid family and medical leave. In a national survey:

  • 85% say workers should receive paid leave for their own serious health condition
  • 82% say mothers and 69% say fathers should receive paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child
  • 67% say workers should receive paid leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition

The report highlights the human toll caused by the lack of paid family leave. A majority of survey respondents who took parental leave said they took less time off after their child’s birth or placement than they needed or wanted to. Among those who returned to work early, 69% reported they could not afford the additional loss of wages to remain on leave and 47% worried they would lose their jobs. Many workers also reported cutting short leaves to care for a family member with a serious health condition (40%) or attend to their own serious health needs (38%).

Moreover, many workers were unable to take leave at all: 16% of Americans employed in the last two years reported being unable to take time off that they needed or wanted. Among low-income families (those with a household income of less than $30,000), that number was nearly double (30%). 72% of those who did not take needed leave said they could not afford to lose the income and 54%, disproportionately low-income workers, feared losing their jobs.

For low-income families, our national failure to guarantee paid leave has devastating financial consequences. A shocking 62% of low-income workers who took leave received no pay at all while on leave. As a result, 57% of this group took on debt, 46% put off paying their bills, and 48% went on to public assistance.

At A Better Balance, we believe that all workers deserve the right to paid time off when they and their families need it the most. That’s why we’re fighting for paid leave laws at the state and federal level and championing policies that support all working families.