The Economic Benefits of Family and Medical Leave Insurance (Report)

By Heather Boushey, Ann O’Leary, and Alexandra Mitukiewicz, Center for American Progress

The United States is the only advanced industrialized nation without a federal law providing workers access to paid maternity leave and one of only a handful of nations that does not offer broader family and medical leave insurance. Family and medical leave insurance, often referred to as paid family and medical leave or paid leave, provides wage replacement to workers taking temporary leave to recover from a serious illness, care for an ill family member, or care for a newborn or a newly adopted or fostered child.

The lack of family and medical leave insurance poses challenges for families because most caregivers work outside the home. Today, the majority of families do not have a stay-at-home parent to provide care. Seventy-one percent of children live in a family with either two working parents or a single parent. The percentage of adult children providing care for a parent has tripled over the past 15 years. Among workers who were employed at some time while caregiving, one in five reported that they took a leave of absence from work in order to address caregiving responsibilities. Family and medical leave insurance would help all American workers be less economically vulnerable when balancing work, illness, and family care.

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