California has distinguished itself as a national leader in paid family leave policies. The state’s 2004 paid family leave law enables qualifying employees to take paid time off to care for family members. Researchers examining the impact of the law found that people had a greater capacity to help their loved ones due to a reduced fear of financial stress or job loss.
Longer maternity leave and more paternity leave
An analysis of California respondents to the Health and Retirement Study revealed that mothers doubled their leaves from work after giving birth from three weeks to six weeks. Similarly, fathers took leaves in greater numbers.
Parents have historically feared the hardships of unpaid leave and therefore went to work instead of foregoing the income or risking dismissal from their jobs. This employment law protects the rights of qualifying workers to take leaves and keep their jobs.
More stability for older workers
People in the workforce aged 45 to 64 increasingly have elderly parents who need extra support. In many situations, a person needs to leave a job or drop down to part-time hours to accommodate the care needs of an elderly parent.
Paid leave, however, appears to allow more people to manage their work responsibilities alongside their care-giving duties. Being able to take a leave without concern about job loss or excessive income loss lets people focus on elderly parents after surgeries or during illnesses. They are able to stay employed at one job instead of moving in and out of temporary positions as they navigate a family member’s complex health care needs. Evidence also suggests that paid family leave delays or prevents the need to place elderly parents in nursing homes.