Aging population part of call for broad paid-leave

The nation’s aging population, increases in demand for family members to care for loved ones, and gender gaps in the labor force are making time for family care and serious personal medical issues essential for any national paid family and medical leave plan. Those are some of the findings of a new report released in June on the heels of a limited paid parental leave proposal in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal.

The report, titled “Our Aging, Caring Nation: Why a U.S. Paid Leave Plan Must Provide More Than Time to Care for New Children,” was prepared by the National Partnership for Women and Families. The group analyzed research on the health, financial and economic effects of paid leave policies, along with demographic and labor force data from all 50 states.

The analysis highlights the deficiencies of public policy proposals for paid leave that exclude certain types of care, according to Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership, a non-profit organization that describes itself as a non-partisan advocate for fairness in the workplace and access to quality healthcare.

“Meeting the needs of parents caring for new children is critically important and must be part of any national paid leave plan, but it is wholly insufficient on its own,” said Ness. “More than three in four people who take leave in this country do so to recover from serious illnesses or injuries, or to care for a seriously ill or injured parent, spouse, child or relative. Our analysis shows that no paid leave plan that leaves these people behind and ignores years of research will come close to addressing the needs of workers, families, businesses and our economy.”

According to the study, there are strong health, financial and economic imperatives for a national paid-leave policy that includes parental leave, family care leave and personal medical leave.

“The data clearly shows that any paid leave plan that excludes the millions of working people caring for family members and the increasing number of older working adults who need care isn’t the real solution the country needs,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership. “Recent and growing consensus about the problem is remarkable progress, and it offers the opportunity for a real conversation about what a strong policy looks like and how we end the days when too many people in this country are struggling without basic paid family and medical leave. A plan that only offers paid parental leave just won’t do.”

Currently, 14 percent of U.S. workers have paid family leave through their jobs, and fewer than 40 percent have personal medical leave through an employer’s temporary disability insurance program, according to the National Partnership. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid leave, but it doesn’t cover everyone and many can’t afford to take unpaid leave. More than 75 percent of those who take FMLA leave do so for family caregiving and medical reasons and not for parental leave purposes.

“Our Aging, Caring Nation” concludes that the best solution is a national paid family and medical leave plan that is available to all working people, applies to women and men equally, provides at least 12 weeks of leave with meaningful benefits, covers the range of reasons people need family and medical leave, protects against retaliation for needing or taking leave, and is affordable for workers and employers. The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which Congress has been considering, would meet those criteria, according to the National Partnership.

The full report is available at