The United States remains one of only two nations without a national maternity leave policy. In its founding year, IWPR analyzed the costs to American workers of not having unpaid leave for childbirth, personal health needs, or family care giving in its inaugural publication, Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans of the Lack of Family and Medical Leave. IWPR’s research showed that, by not recognizing the need for work-life balance, established policies not only failed to support workers and their families, but were costly to taxpayers. Now more than twenty years old, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 has become a cornerstone of U.S. employment law and human resource policy.
IWPR produces reports, fact sheets, and memoranda regarding the impacts of proposed paid leave laws to inform policymakers, business leaders, and advocates across the country. By identifying the costs and benefits of workplace leave policies to both workers and their families, as well as to employers and society as a whole, IWPR has provided strong evidence against claims that these policies harm businesses and the economy. IWPR’s research shifted the terms of the policy debate—from focusing almost exclusively on the costs to businesses of providing family and medical leave to the costs to families and the overall economy of not providing leave.