1. Current leave and other employment-related policies to support parents

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1 United States 1 Shirley Gatenio Gabel (Fordham University), Jane Waldfogel (Columbia University) and Linda Haas (Indiana University) April 2015 NB. United States is a federal state. For comparisons with other countries in this review on demographic, economic, employment and gender equality indicators and on leave provision and early childhood education and care services - go to cross-country comparisons page on website. To contact authors of country notes, go to membership-list of members page on website. 1. Current leave and other employment-related policies to support parents Note on leave policy: There is no statutory right to any of the types of leave or other statutory measures covered in country notes. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides leave for a variety of reasons including: childbirth or the care of a newborn child up to 12 months; for the placement and care of an adopted or foster child; for the care of a seriously ill child, spouse or parent; or for a serious health condition of the employee that makes him/her unable to work for more than three consecutive days. The federal Department of Labor is responsible for FMLA. In addition, five states and one territory offer all or some employees the statutory right to partly compensated leaves for family reasons. These areas cover 23 per cent of the US population. Length of leave (before and after birth) Federal FMLA: up to 12 weeks in a 12 month period. Leave is an individual entitlement. Payment and funding Federal FMLA: unpaid. Flexibility in use Federal FMLA may be taken in one continuous period or divided into several blocks of time. Regional or local variations in leave policy California was the first state to enact a comprehensive paid family leave law in The state provides all workers covered by the state s Temporary Disability Insurance 1 Please cite as: Gatenio Gabel, S., Waldfogel, J. and Haas, L. (2015) United States country note, in: P. Moss (ed.) International Review of Leave Policies and Research Available at: 1

2 (TDI) programme with up to six weeks of a partially paid leave (55-60 per cent of earnings up to a maximum of US$1,075 [ ] a week in 2014) following childbirth, adoption or care of a seriously ill child, parent, spouse or domestic partner. These benefits are funded by employee contributions, and benefit levels are adjusted annually as wages increase. Hawaii provides up to four weeks of leave per year for childbirth or care of a seriously ill child or family member to workers employed at least six months in companies with 100 or more employees. Compensation is available through the TDI program, funded by employees and employers, equivalent to 58 per cent of average weekly wages, up to a cap of $510 [ 470]. New Jersey enacted paid family leave in The legislation extends the state s existing TDI system (which previously provided for paid maternity leave since 1970) to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of TDI benefits at two-thirds of prior wages up to US$595 [ 466] a week in 2014 to cover leave to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child, or sick child, parent, spouse or partner. The measure is financed by employee payroll deductions. New York provides up to six weeks for all women employees for childbirth, paid at 50 per cent of wages to a cap of US$175 [ 160] a week. This is managed through the TDI program, funded by employees and employers Puerto Rico s Working Mothers Act, enacted in 1942, provides an eight-week Maternity leave at 100 per cent of earnings. Rhode Island s paid family leave law went into effect in The legislation extended the state s existing TDI programme to provide four weeks paid leave to care for a newborn child or a family member with a serious illness. The programme is financed by employee payroll deductions and pays a minimum of $74 [ 54] per week and a maximum of US$752 [ 687] per week. Eligibility (e.g. related to employment or family circumstances) Federal FMLA covers all employees working for a covered employer (see additional note below) and who have worked for that employer for at least one year (even if not for a continuous period) and for at least 1,250 hours over the preceding 12 months. Because of the qualifying conditions, only about 58 per cent of workers in private firms are eligible for federal FMLA, with lower coverage for low wage workers, workers with young children, and working welfare recipients 3. Variation in leave due to child or family reasons (e.g. multiple or premature births; poor health or disability of child or mother; lone parent); or delegation of leave to person other than the mother None. Additional note (e.g. if leave payments are often supplemented by collective agreements; employer exclusions or rights to postpone) Federal FMLA exempts private employers and non-profit organisations with less than 50 employees (all public sector employees are covered). 2 Conversion of local currency into Euros undertaken on 1-5 June 2015, using 3 Council of Economic Advisors (2014) The Economics of Paid and Unpaid Leave. Washington, DC: Office of the President. 2

3 The majority of US workers lack access to paid family leave from any source. The 2011 American Time Use Survey provided detailed information on employees access to paid family leave, through statutory provision in the states that provide paid leave, collective bargaining agreements or individual workplace policies. Twenty-eight per cent of employees indicated they had access to paid leave for childcare, while 43 per cent had access to leave to care for an ill family member. 4 Only 13 per cent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers Relationship between leave policy and early childhood education and care policy There is no statutory entitlement to leave or ECEC. Levels of attendance at formal ECEC services for children under three years are above average for the countries participating in this review and for OECD countries, but below average for children over three years. For actual attendance levels, see relationship between leave and ECEC entitlements on cross-country comparisons page. 3. Changes in policy since April 2014 (including proposals currently under discussion) In December 2013, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduced a proposal for the Family and Medical Leave Enhancement (FAMILY) Act 6, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance programme that would provide up to 12 weeks of partially-paid leave for reasons covered by the FMLA. Eligibility for FAMILY Act benefits would be based on the work history or work credit requirements of Social Security Disability Insurance. This legislation would compensate workers for 66 per cent of earnings, up to an income ceiling. Unlike the FMLA, all workers would be covered, regardless of company size. It would be funded by employee and employer contributions, which would be collected in an iindependent trust fund within the Social Security Administration. Benefits would be administered by a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within SSA. This bill made no progress in that legislative session and was reintroduced in March In 2015, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum to provide federal workers with six weeks of paid sick time for caregiving, and called on Congress to pass legislation giving federal employees six weeks of paid Parental leave. In response, Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York introduced H.R. 532: Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of The Act would provide six weeks of paid time off for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a new child to federal workers who qualify for FMLA leave. The Act would not provide employees with additional leave time; it would simply allow new parents both fathers and mothers to receive pay during a portion of their 12 weeks of FMLA leave. Washington enacted paid family leave in 2007, which was scheduled to go into effect in 2009 but was postponed until October 2015 for budgetary reasons. The funding mechanism is unclear. It provides up to five weeks of paid leave for employees who have worked at least 680 hours during the last year for a business with 50 or more employees 4 Council of Economic Advisors. The Economics of Paid and Unpaid Leave. Washington, DC: Office of the President. 5 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014, September). Employee Benefits in the United States National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2014 (Tables 16 and 32)

4 A number of states are considering paid family leave programmes (e.g. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont). The President s budget proposes US$2.2 billion [ 2 billion] for the federal Department of Labor s Fiscal Year 2016 budget to help states fund and implement new paid family and medical leave programmes; and US$35 million [ 32 million] for states to create the infrastructure needed to develop new state paid leave programmes. The proposed funding is subject to budget negotiations this year. 4. Take-up of leave A 2012 survey found that only 16 per cent of US workers eligible for the federal FMLA took leave for any covered reason. Of these, about half took it for their own illness; 21 per cent took it for reasons related to a new child; and the remainder took it to care for an ill family member (which could be a spouse or child) 7. Though the law provides de facto Parental leave entitlements, studies have found it has had generally small effects on mothers likelihood of taking time off from work at childbirth 8 9 and little or no effects on time off by new fathers This suggests there are limits to the extent to which families are willing and able to use unpaid leave. 5. Research and publications on leave and other employment-related policies since April 2014 a. General overview None reported. b. Selected publications since April 2014 Bartel, A., Baum, C., Rossin-Slater, M., Ruhm, C. and Waldfogel, J. (2014) California s Paid Family Leave Law: Lessons from the First Decade. Washington: US Department of Labor. Available at: This is a comprehensive summary of research conducted on the US state with the oldest paid family leave programme. Access to leave, utilization of leave and consequences of leave availability are discussed as are consequences for employers. Baum, C. L. and Ruhm, C.J. (2014) The Effects of Paid Family Leave in California on Labor Market Outcomes. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Access to paid family leave in California increased the amount of leave new mothers took by three weeks, with the greatest impact on disadvantaged women. Leave access appeared to increase also for fathers but by smaller amounts. The impact of leave-taking on women s employment and income appeared positive, and leavetaking also increased likelihood of breastfeeding and time spent on childcare. Employers reported positive or no effects of the leave on business outcomes. 7 Klerman, J. A., Daley, K., & Pozniak, A. (2013). Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Technical report. Washington, D.C.: Abt Associates. 8 Han, W.-J. and Waldfogel, J. (2003) Parental leave: The impact of recent legislation on parents leavetaking, Demography, Vol.40, 1: Han, W.J., Ruhm, C. and Waldfogel, J. (2009) Parental leave policies and parents employment and leave-taking, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol.26, 1:

5 Ehling, L. (2014) California s Paid Family Leave Program Ten Years After the Program s Implementation, Who Has Benefited and What Has Been Learned? CA: California Senate Office of Research. Available at: An evaluation was conducted of this program enacted ten years ago. Over time applications have increased; the vast majority (94 per cent) of applications were approved. Men s applications doubled (with their proportion being 30 per cent in 2013), nearly all for the reason of bonding with a new child (rather than care of a family member). Applications for low-income workers were disproportionately lower than for other groups and have declined over time. Harrington, B., Van Deusen, F., Fraone, J., Eddy, S. and Haas, L. (2014) Take Your Leave: Perspectives on Paternity Leave from Fathers, Leading Organizations and Global Policies. Boston: Boston College Center for Work and Family. In a study of over 1000 well-educated fathers, 60 per cent reported that paid Paternity leave was a very or extremely important consideration for picking an employer. Five out of six said they would take time off from work at childbirth only if they were compensated at least 70 per cent of their ordinary income. Three quarters thought paid Paternity leave should be two to four weeks in length. Almost 90 per cent had taken leave off around childbirth, for an average of two weeks, combining family leave with personal days and vacation. Huang, R. and Yang, M. (2014) Paid maternity leave and breastfeeding practice before and after California's implementation of the nation's first paid family leave program. Economics & Human Biology. Vol. 16, Issue C: Data from the large-scale Infant Feeding Practices Study were used to examine the changes in breastfeeding practices before and after the implementation of paid family leave in California. Exclusive breastfeeding increased three to five per cent, with an increase of per cent for breastfeeding at several important stages of infancy. Lerner, S., and Applebaum, E. (2014) Business As Usual: New Jersey Employers Experiences with Family Leave Insurance. Washington, DC: Center for Economic and Policy Research.Available at: Most family leaves in New Jersey are taken to care for a newborn. A small scale study involving 18 employers revealed little negative (or positive) impact of the New Jersey law on productivity. Human resource managers and employees were reported as having little indepth knowledge about the program. Pesonen, A. (2015) Encouraging work-family balance to correct gender imbalance: A comparison of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Iceland Act on Maternity/Paternity and Parental Leave, Houston Journal of International Law, Vol. 37: This article considers how deficiencies in the FMLA contribute to the persistence of gender inequality. The author reviews research literature to examine how the exemption of small business, the lack of pay for leave and the gender neutrality of the law keep the law from improving the economic status of women. Comparisons are made with the Icelandic system. Rabe-Hemp, C.E. & Humiston, G.S. (2015) A survey of maternity policies and pregnancy accommodations in American police departments. Police Practice & Research, Vol. 16, No.3: Interviews were conducted with 25 police departments employing the most women in the US to investigate how the FMLA and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) impacted departmental practices. They found that the FMLA was well-implemented in these agencies. The PDA did not influence the departments in such a consistent way. Some placed pregnant officers on unpaid disability leave, while others reassigned them to light duties. In 2012, the International Association of Chiefs of Police announced a new policy that encourages agencies to accommodate the needs of pregnant employees so they can remain employed 5

6 during pregnancy. c. Ongoing research None reported. 6

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