A just-released study funded by a U.S. Department of Labor grant to the State of Washington shows strong public support for a paid family and medical leave program – and new cost estimates that put such a program easily within reach of most workers and employers:
- Three in four Washington voters support a state paid family and medical leave program, with strong support across party identification, gender, age, and income.
- Strong majorities of voters favor a comprehensive program with shared premiums for employees and employers.
- A paid family and medical leave program to care for a new child, seriously ill family member, or a worker’s own serious health condition would cost a typical worker less than a cup of coffee each week.
- A paid family leave program would reduce the use of TANF (welfare) by new parents.
The study also included interviews with 30 employers and estimates of potential reductions in TANF (welfare) and SNAP (food stamps) usage by new mothers due to paid family leave.
California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island have established programs that provide wage replacement for 26 to 52 weeks for the worker’s own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth-related disability, and from 4 to 12 additional weeks of paid family leave to care for a newborn or newly placed child or for a seriously ill family member. The programs are typically funded through payroll premiums.
A number of other states, including Washington, are considering establishing similar programs.