The United States falls behind the rest of the world in providing workers with guaranteed paid parental leave. Only 13% of U.S. workers enjoy paid family leave benefits, and the number is much lower — 4% — among low-wage workers. Workers without access to paid leave are more likely to leave the workforce, stay out of work far longer, in many case relying on public assistance, costing taxpayers and the local economy all while reducing family economic security.
In Ohio, women make up nearly half of the state’s labor force. Paid parental leave policies are a critical way to keep our workforce and local economy strong. Our latest research looks at the state of paid parental leave and the many benefits it can offer.
Paid parental leave policies have many benefits for women, families, employers and society as a whole. Among them include:
Strengthens Women and Families
The majority of young children depend on the income of working mothers, who are increasingly likely to be sole or primary breadwinners in their families. Paid maternity and paternity leave policies preserve income and increase health outcomes for women and their dependent children.
Reduces Gender and Economic Disparities
When taking leave without pay is the only option for a new parent, unmarried, nonwhite and less educated parents are the least likely to make use of this benefit. This relatively low level of leave-taking by less advantaged workers can create health and economic disparities for parents and children.
Improves Critical Health Outcomes
Longer leaves that result from the availability of paid time off have been shown to improve the health prospects of women and their babies. Rates of infant mortality, immunization and breastfeeding have all been seen to improve when women have access to paid leave during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Positive Impacts on the Local Economy
Paid leave policies for mothers and fathers increase the level of women’s employment and participation in the regional workforce, and contribute to higher levels of employment rates and wages for mothers in the years following childbirth. And by preserving family income, these policies also reduce demand for public assistance and social services.
A Stronger, More Productive Workforce
Paid leave policies have numerous benefits for local employers by improving employee retention, job satisfaction, and productivity and helping employers compete for top talent.