New Preliminary Data In New York Shows Widespread Employer Support for Paid Leave Law
Research finds that California’s paid family leave produced a 46-percent increase in fathers taking time off to bond with newborn and newly-adopted children
NEW YORK – With Father’s Day approaching, many Americans will turn their focus to the connection that fathers have with their children. The U.S. remains one of just a handful of industrialized nations not offering access to paid family leave. An estimated 12 percent of private-sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, while roughly 40 percent of all American workers have no job-protected leave at all – paid or unpaid. But at the same time, all signs support the viability and public support for paid paternity leave, including Columbia Business School studies on employer attitudes and California’s paid family leave law.
“The number of fathers utilizing family leave, when they have access to it, is extremely high – and it’s a clear takeaway for the debate nationwide. This study should help inform the conversation around paid leave, because research shows it is fundamentally a family issue – appealing to both mothers and fathers,” said Columbia Business School’s Professor Ann Bartel. “At its core, paid family leave is a ‘dad’ issue as much as it is a ‘mom’ issue. As Father’s Day approaches, our research demonstrates that fathers will greatly utilize paid family leave if it is offered, and their employers are supportive of them taking that important time away from the job.”
In January, New York joined California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island as the fourth state to provide workers with paid time off from work to care for newborn or newly-adopted children. Beyond parental leave, these laws also cover situations when a worker misses time to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent, as family responsibilities don’t end with maternity and paternity. Preliminary data from Bartel – working with Maya Rossin-Slater of the Stanford University School of Medicine, Christopher Ruhm of the University of Virginia, and Jane Waldfogel of the Columbia School of Social Work – finds that among 1,200 employers surveyed, nearly two-thirds of New York State employers support the paid family leave law. The majority support remains consistent among small, medium, and large businesses, with at least six out of ten business owners reporting that they are somewhat or very supportive of the new law. The researchers expect to return to the same employers in six months to monitor if perceptions have changed.
Newly-published research from Rossin-Slater, Ruhm, Waldfogel, Jenna Stearns of the University of California, Davis, and Bartel – the Merrill Lynch Professor of Workforce Transformation at Columbia Business School and the Director of Columbia Business School's Workforce Transformation Initiative – finds that California’s paid family leave policy, introduced in 2004, resulted in a 46-percent increase in fathers taking a week of leave over the law’s first ten years.
California’s first-in-the-nation gender-neutral paid family leave policy offers up to six weeks of paid leave for nearly all parents with a 55-percent wage replacement rate up to a ceiling (a maximum benefit of $1,173 per week in 2017). Researchers studied annual U.S. Census data from the American Community Survey to estimate how many employed men were taking leave. Analysis showed that the California law raised the share of fathers of infants on leave from work in a given week by about 0.9 percentage points, a 46-percent increase from before the law’s passage. Key findings include:
- Fathers make up a larger share of all California leave claims: Over the first decade of the policy, research found that the share of California men making paid family leave claims increased from 19.6 percent of claims in 2005 to about 30 percent of claims by 2013.
- A significant percentage of California fathers took leave while mothers returned to work: Among households with two married and employed parents, about half of increased claims were driven by fathers taking leave at the same time as the child’s mother and the other half by fathers who take leave on their own, while the mother is at work.
- California fathers took more leave than fathers in other states: Researchers identified a large increase in leave-taking in California relative to elsewhere in the United States after the implementation of the California paid family leave law.
Researchers have also found largely positive attitudes toward the law among California employers. The California data combined with employer attitudes show that paid gender-neutral leave is likely to be popular in more places around the country.
The study, Paid Family Leave, Fathers’ Leave‐Taking, and Leave‐Sharing in Dual‐Earner Households, published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management is available online at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/pam.22030
To learn more about the cutting-edge research taking place at Columbia Business School, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.
 Appelbaum, Eileen and Ruth Milkman, “Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences with Paid Family Leave in California”, Center for Economic and Policy Research, January 2011. http://cepr.net/documents/publications/paid-family-leave-1-2011.pdf
About the researcher
Professor Bartel is the Merrill Lynch Professor of Workforce Transformation at Columbia Business School and the Director of Columbia Business School's Workforce Transformation...Read more.