Paid Family Leave and Sick Days in the U.S.: Findings from the 2016 Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey

Source: Nisha Kurani, Usha Ranji, Alina Salganicoff, and Matthew Rae, Kaiser family Foundation, Data Note, December 2016

From the introduction:
Workplace benefits are an important part of balancing work, family, and medical needs. So called “fringe benefits” such as paid family leave and sick days can help employees meet their personal and family health care needs, while also fulfilling work responsibilities. Yet there is no federal requirement for paid leave or sick days, which leaves many individuals, particularly low-income workers, to face tradeoffs such as taking time off while forgoing wages, going to work while sick, or paying for caretakers for their children and family members.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed under the Clinton administration requires eligible employers to provide unpaid family leave. However, unlike most other developed nations, the U.S. does not have national standards on paid family or sick leave.1 In recent years, there have been a number of local and state initiatives to expand access to paid family leave and sick days in the U.S. Employees not covered by these local laws must rely on voluntary employer policies, which can vary considerably. This is particularly salient for women, who are often the primary caretakers for children and also comprise nearly half of the nation’s workers.2 Approximately seven in ten women with children under age 18 were in the labor market in 2015.3 The issue of paid leave received some attention during the 2016 election, but the incoming administration has not yet signaled any plans.

This data note summarizes state and local policies on paid family leave and sick days and presents new data from the 2016 Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey on the share of firms that offer paid parental leave and paid sick days benefits.