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Center Releases Paid Family Leave Policy Brief

Child and parent holding hands, text reading paid family leave

March 31, 2023

The Center for Hunger-Free Communities partnered with professional staff from the Dornsife Staff Coordinating Committee to explore the impact of paid family leave on families, businesses, and communities by releasing a policy brief entitled "Making the Case for Paid Family Leave: Supporting the Well-being of Families and Communities." Natalie Shaak, Associate Director of Communication and Administration at the Center and Chair of the Staff Coordinating Committee, was lead author and on the brief.

The brief argues that paid family leave is essential for promoting health equity and supporting family well-being. Extensive research was presented on the positive impact paid leave has on adult and child mental, physical, and financial health. Offering paid leave supports businesses by creating positive workplace culture and supporting the retention and productivity of workers through allowing family members to take the time necessary for their physical and mental health while receiving a paycheck. Paid leave is also an important tool in reducing the gender pay gap and other disparities centered on gender and race. 

Paid family leave includes times off (outside of sick or vacation time) for the parents after the birth or adoption of a child as well as for the care of family members.

While the vast majority of people in America are in favor of paid family leave, the United States remains one of just two high income countries worldwide that does provide national paid family leave. In the U.S., only 23 percent of private industry workers have access to paid family leave, and that number is significantly lower for the the lowest wage workers. Just 4 percent of those in low wage jobs are provided paid family leave. 

Paid family leave is important for the mental and physical recovery after childbirth and for the bonding of both parents, which results in more engaged and healthier families. But leave is not just important for new parents. More than one in five U.S. adults (53 million) provides care to adult family members or children with special needs, an increase of 21.8 percent from 2015 to 2020. An overwhelming majority of these caregivers support adults over the age of 50, due to an aging U.S. population as well as workforce shortages in the health care and long-term care industries.

The brief calls for businesses, in lieu of a national policy, to provide paid family leave, and expand resources for family caretaking to create more family-friendly workplaces.

Read the full brief.