Study: Paid family leave in California keeps women in jobs – CalMatters

by | Dec 10, 2022 | Jobs

In summary

For women with spouses who have serious medical issues, access to paid family leave reduces the likelihood that they leave work, according to a new study.

If you work in California and your sister is undergoing cancer treatments, or your spouse gets knee surgery, you might be able to get paid while you take time off work to care for them. 

It’s a less well-known part of California’s paid family leave benefit, which also covers new parents who leave work to care for and bond with their babies. Although the number of Californians, especially women, using paid leave for reasons beyond new babies has soared in the past two decades, still roughly six times more use paid family leave to care for new children than use it to take care of seriously ill family members

While there’s broad support for giving new parents paid time off — a benefit that doesn’t exist across the U.S. — there’s less consensus around paid leave to care for ill family members. At the same time, research on the effects of paid family leave for anyone besides new parents has been limited. 

A new study published today, though, finds that access to paid family leave decreases the likelihood that women leave their job if their spouse has serious health issues. 

Researchers at Wellesley College and Stanford University looked at data for thousands of healthy, employed adults who had either a child undergoing surgery or hospitalization, or a spouse who had a health condition or a cognitive limitation and also had a major health event. They compared outcomes for people in California, New York, and New Jersey before and after those states pa …

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