REPORT Workers

Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences With Paid Family Leave in California


January 2011, Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman

As family and work patterns have shifted over recent decades, the demand for time off from work to address family needs has grown rapidly. Women—and increasingly men as well—often find themselves caught between the competing pressures of paid work and family responsibilities, especially when they become parents, or when serious illness strikes a family member. “Work-family balance” has become an urgent but elusive priority for millions of Americans, driven by high labor force participation rates among mothers and the caregiving needs of an aging population.

California’s passage of the nation’s first comprehensive Paid Family Leave (PFL) program on September 23, 2002 was a historic breakthrough. Benefits provided by this legislation became available to most working Californians on July 1, 2004. The law provides eligible employees up to six weeks of wage replacement leave at 55 percent of their usual weekly earnings, up to a maximum benefit of $987 per week in 2011 (the maximum is indexed in relation to the state’s average weekly wage), when they take time off from work to bond with a new child or to care for a seriously ill family member. This report presents findings from surveys we conducted in 2009 and 2010 of 253 employers and 500 individuals about their experiences with the California PFL program and concludes with policy recommendations.

Report – PDFpdf_small | Flashpdf_small


What Employers Can Learn From the California Experience (.pptx) (Updated 2/22/2012)

For more on Paid Family Leave:


Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy

by Ruth Milkman and Eileen Appelbaum
Cornell Press (2013)

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