What Would it Cost to Have Mandatory, Paid Parental Leave? (February 5, 2015)

By Dory Devlin, Fortune

Thanks to California and New Jersey’s state programs, we actually have a good idea of the cost to employers and employees.

How much would it cost to have mandatory, paid family leave in the U.S.? The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid leave for workers who are new parents. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act gives workers the right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Last month President Obama reignited the debate over paid leave when he pledged to make paid family leave a top priority and used his executive power to give six weeks of paid sick leave to federal employees after the birth or adoption of a child.

Currently, only 11 percent of American workers get paid family leave through their employers or state programs,according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Three states— California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island —offer guaranteed paid leave; the programs are funded by employees’ payroll deductions.

Because California’s Paid Family Leave program is 10 years old and New Jersey’s program was instituted in 2009, there is a body of research about the financial impact of paid family leave. (Rhode Island’s program is just one year old.)

Here are three things to know about the cost of paid leave programs in these states:

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