New report details positive effects of paid family leave

Newborn Family Leave: Effects on Business, Parents, and Children
Full Report | Executive Summary

The arrival of a new baby changes the world for parents, often bringing familial and work responsibilities into conflict. While some employers provide parents of newborns with the option to take time off of work to care for a new child, many do not. For some parents, a period of unpaid leave is provided through the federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

Five years ago, recognizing the importance of leave for families and children, California lawmakers passed the Paid Family Leave Act, which provides employees thirty days of paid leave to care for a new child, a seriously ill family member, or their own serious illness. While very modest compared to policies in other developed countries, California’s Paid Family Leave program was the first of its kind in the nation, and remains the most generous.

To mark the five year anniversary of California’s Paid Family Leave program and in recognition of the Packard Foundation’s support for children and families, we are pleased to release “Newborn Family Leave: Effects on Children, Parents and Business.” This is the first report combining the results of more than 150 studies on the impact of family leave on parents, newborns, and businesses. This report synthesizes the most significant research on newborn family leave into one document, providing a broad view of leave’s economic and social impacts. The report finds that:

  • Newborn family leave has significant positive effects on the health of young children, rates of breastfeeding, and fathers’ involvement with their babies.
  • The most important determinants of whether parents take leave are if the leave is paid or job-protected.
  • Lower income workers and part-time workers are less likely to have access to either paid or unpaid leave.
  • Businesses report no major problems in complying with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and effects on business appear to be modest. Some studies suggest that leave policies can benefit companies through increased employee retention and job satisfaction.

You can see a summary of the report and the longer literature review on the David and Lucile Packard Foundation website.

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