Estimating Usage and Costs of Alternative Policies to Provide Paid Family and Medical Leave in the United States

, Institute for Women's Policy Research

January 19, 2017
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This brief summarizes a simulation analysis of five different paid family and medical leave model programs selected to show a range of generosity of provision and based on working programs in three states (California 2002 legislation and 2016 revisions, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) and a federal proposal (the FAMILY Act), all applied to the national workforce. The analysis simulates worker behavior and estimates how many paid leaves would be taken under each model, the average weekly benefit level for each leave, and the total costs of the benefits paid.

  • –A national paid family and medical leave policy would increase workers’ leave taking, paid and unpaid, by 6 to 11 percent annually, depending on the model policy.
  • –Paid leaves taken would average from $428 per week to $493 per week, depending on the model program, all well below the maximum benefit available.
  • –Benefits under national paid leave policy models cost between 0.45 and 0.63 percent of payroll.
  • –Under all models nearly three-fourths of family and medical benefits paid out is for the worker’s own health; the share going to maternity and child bonding ranges from 13 to 23 percent depending on the model policy.