The Popularity Of Paid Leave

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 22 2015 @ 11:38am

Sick Time

Christopher Ingraham finds widespread support for paid sick leave. He flags a 2010 survey that “asked respondents how they felt about paid sick time, and then presented them with a battery of arguments for and against such legislation”:

[A]fter hearing these arguments, respondents’ views on sick leave legislation were unchanged — 75 percent supported mandatory sick time before hearing the arguments, while 74 percent supported it afterward. Even more telling, respondents rated the appeals about lower wages among the least compelling of the con arguments.

So, let’s take sick leave’s detractors at their word: If it really comes down to a choice between paid sick time and higher wages, Americans overwhelmingly choose the sick time. So why not give them that choice?

Talbot takes a closer look at research on family leave. She uses California and New Jersey as examples, states that “have both instituted six-week, partially paid family leave, funded by employees in the form of a small payroll tax”:

The New Jersey law went into effect in 2009, and three years later the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers conducted a study that showed some remarkably robust and positive results. Women who had taken the leave were far more likely to be working nine to twelve months after the birth of their child than new mothers who had not; they were also thirty-nine per cent less likely to be on public assistance, and fifty-four per cent more likely to have seen an increase in their wages. This finding is important: in some of the European countries that offer very long leaves—of a year or more—women who take advantage of the policies often pay a price in promotions and earning potential. But, based on the evidence here, shorter leaves seem to boost women’s wages.

In California, “people there took more and longer leaves”:

Meanwhile, most of the businesses surveyed in California reported either positive or no noticeable impact from the family-leave law. Presumably, their employees came back to work happier, healthier, and less distracted.