Paid leave policies do not always include job protection: US President's 2022 Economic Report

May 07, 2022

Virginia [US], May 7 : The US President's 2022 Economic Report, citing a new study on the impact of paid family leave obligations on labour supply and care decisions after a spouse's disability or health shock, noted that paid leave policies do not always include job protection.
The findings of the report were published in the 'Journal of Health Economics' by Priyanka Anand, an associate professor of health administration and policy at George Mason University.
"Having our research recognized in the President's Economic Report is an honour and emphasizes the importance of research on paid leave," said Anand, adding that only nine states and DC currently have paid leave mandates, but more are considering adopting their own policies and the American Families Plan proposed by President Biden in 2021 would have permanently guaranteed all workers in the US 12 weeks of paid leave.
It is important to understand what type of impact these policies would have on employment, she stated.
The report discusses the economic progress the United States has made over the past year and includes the Council of Economic Advisors Annual Report. Anand's work is featured in Chapter 4 of the report titled "Investing in People: Education, Workforce Development, and Health."
When a family member is injured or suffers an unexpected health setback, they may need additional care, the report stresses, adding that the workers without paid family leave often face the tradeoff between staying at work to earn income or leaving their job to provide care for their family members.
Job protection, such as what the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides, is important too, but often unpaid and not all families can afford to go without income while caring for a family member, added the report, while stating that additionally, paid leave policies do not always include job protection.
"There is a large body of existing research that examines the impact of paid leave on women's careers after childbirth, but very little on the impact of paid leave on potential caregivers after a spouse's work-limiting health shock or disability. The recent global pandemic brought the issue of paid leave for family caregiving to the forefront, with many workers having family members affected by COVID-19 and needing care," Anand said in the report.
Anand and her fellow researchers sought to better understand paid family leave policies' effect on employment in relation to a spouse's disability or sudden health issue (health shock). They questioned whether paid leave and/or job protection may further support families since they would not have to choose between caregiving and income.
The report used data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to compare employment and caregiving decisions before and after a spouse's work-limiting health shock or disability, specifically in states that have a paid leave mandate (California and New Jersey) versus states that eventually had a paid leave mandate, but didn't at the time of the spouse's health shock.
The researchers found that paid leave mandates reduce the likelihood of decreasing paid work hours to provide caregiving after a spouse's health shock. However, paid leave mandates also reduce employment if they are not provided together with job protection, it added.
For caregivers who may not qualify for FMLA or have other sources of job protection, paid leave mandates to increase the likelihood that they will leave their job to care for their spouses.
They did not find evidence of an impact of paid leave mandates on other measures of employment. The research team acknowledges that the small number of states (two) that have paid leave and the limitations of SIPP survey data are limitations of the research.