Majority support paid leave, but think employers should foot the bill

Many local and state governments recently have enacted laws to provide workers with access to paid family and sick leave. A recent study from Pew Research Center has found that Americans largely support paid leave, and most say that employers, rather than the federal and state government, should cover the costs of providing paid leave. However, the public is sharply divided over whether the government should require employers to provide this benefit or let employers decide for themselves, and relatively few see expanding paid leave as a top policy priority.

Pew found that 82 percent believe mothers should have paid maternity leave, while fewer (69 percent) support paid paternity leave. In addition, there is broader support for paid leave for workers dealing with their own serious health condition (85 percent say workers should be paid in this situation) than there is for those caring for a family member who is seriously ill (67 percent favor paid leave for these workers).

Employers should pay. The majority of Americans who support paid leave for mothers (74 percent) or fathers (76 percent) following the birth or adoption of a child think that paid leave should come from employers, and a similar share (72 percent) of those who favor paid medical leave for workers with a serious health condition say the same. When it comes to who should cover the cost of paid leave for workers when they take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition, a smaller majority (59 percent) of paid-leave supporters say pay should come from employers, while 22 percent say it should come from federal government, and 20 percent believe it should come from the state government.

Not a priority. Despite the broad support for paid leave, the survey found that when asked about the public’s policy priorities for President Donald Trump and Congress in the coming year, relatively few Americans (35 percent) see expanding access to paid family and medical leave as a top policy priority. In fact, expanding access to paid family and medical leave ranks at the bottom of a list of 21 policy items, along with improving transportation and dealing with drug addiction.


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