RELEASE: New Analysis Finds Paid Leave Exclusively for New Children Falls Well Short of Workers’ Needs

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new brief that looks at the real reasons workers take family and medical leave, making the case for comprehensive paid family and medical leave. The brief follows the release of President Donald Trump’s budget and the introduction of paid leave proposals in the U.S. Senate that would provide paid leave only for working parents of new children—following the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, or the placement of a foster child. This new CAP analysis, which relies on 2012 data from a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) survey conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor, finds that these proposals are out of touch with the needs of working parents and their children. Key findings include:

  • Less than 1 in 5 FMLA leaves were for a new child.
  • A majority of FMLA leaves were used by workers to care for their own serious illness or to care for a family member with a serious illness.
  • More than half (52.2 percent) of all FMLA leaves were taken by workers who were also caring for children at home.
  • More than a quarter (27.8 percent) of family caregiving leaves under the FMLA were used to care for a seriously ill child.
  • Nearly one-third of FMLA caregiving leaves were to care for a family member age 70 years or older.

“Paid parental leave and comprehensive paid family and medical leave are not interchangeable,” said Shilpa Phadke, vice president of the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress. “It’s been more than 25 years since the FMLA, and millions of families are still waiting on concrete progress. Workers need meaningful protections made possible through paid family and medical leave; what they don’t need are half measures that ignore the challenges they and their families face.”

“As policymakers work to better meet the needs of workers and their children through expanding access to paid leave, it is critical that they ensure that the leave is comprehensive of the real reasons workers need leave,” said Diana Boesch, research assistant for women’s economic security at the Center for American Progress. “Providing only paid new child leave harms young children and does little to improve the financial security of most working families.”

Related resources:

Please click here to read “Paid Family and Medical Leave Must Be Comprehensive to Help Workers and Their Children” by Diana Boesch.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202-741-6292.