The benefits of paid family leave are numerous, as shown by a wide range of studies. Yet the United States lags behind every other developed country when it comes to providing paid family leave. Only about 13 percent of the workforce has access to it; the rest must resort to unpaid leave, putting them in a vicious cycle of financial struggles that affects not only them, but the economic vitality of the U.S.
Although some might argue that paid family leave is bad for the bottom line, studies have shown that providing it has no significant impact on the profitability of businesses. Moreover, it can be an important recruiting tool: 61 percent of women in technology say they would not take a job with a company that didn’t offer paid maternity leave. Additionally, women who take paid leave, and then return to work, are less likely to need public assistance or food stamps later on than women who don’t take leave.
Paid family leave also benefits children. Infants with mothers and fathers who take family leave are more likely to bond with their parents. Fathers who take time off are more involved in childcare later in life. And paid family leave doesn’t just benefit children and new parents. Seniors often require care, but taking unpaid time off to provide for them is too burdensome for many families. Making sure caregivers are paid would ensure that seniors receive the care they need.
The issue of paid family leave is gaining traction in the political sphere. For more information about why it’s such an important issue, see the infographic below.