Washington state is poised to continue the success of California and New Jersey’s paid family leave laws.
Reports have shown in California that 9 out of 10 employers report a “positive” or “no noticeable ’’ effect in profitability, worker turnover, and employee morale after the implementation of paid family leave. In New Jersey, employers are entering the supporters circle as well. “I’ll tell you a secret: If people would only open themselves and realize it, it’s just as important for business as it is for labor,” says Herb Greenberg, CEO of Caliber Corporation. “It’s a win-win situation.”
The benefits for families are noticeable too. In New Jersey, employees are able to take up to 6 weeks paid time off in order to tend to some of life’s most major events such as the birth of a child, a sick relative or adoption. The paid leave programs, administered in conjunction with state disability insurance, costs employees on average a little over $30 a year.
Ruth Milkman, one of the co-authors of the study in California, points out the importance paid leave policies have on extending benefits to all workers, regardless of their wage. “It has helped hundreds of thousands of workers—especially in low-wage jobs—balance the costs and challenges of tending to family and work, and it has begun to close the gap in access to paid leave benefits.”
Both states have shown that the biggest gain has been for low-wage earners – but they are also the most likely to not know of the program or their rights within it.
Nationally, women’s and family advocates are working to implement national standards for family and medical leave. Now is the time for Washington to fulfill its 2007 promise and implement Medical and Family Leave Insurance to ensure millions of workers that when life comes knocking, they will be prepared and protected.
By EOI intern Elissa Goss