Massachusetts voters may head to the polls next fall to decide whether to make paid family and medical leave a required benefit, and a new report released by Northeastern University and the McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy provides them with clear estimates on the proposed program’s costs and coverage.
Authored by Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economist at Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and Randy Albelda of UMass Boston, Paid Family and Medical Leave: Cost and Coverage Estimates of Three Choices in Massachusetts compares the statewide paid leave program that would be established through the proposed ballot measure with the programs proposed in House Bill 2172 and Senate Bill 1048.
Based on a sophisticated simulation model developed by Clayton-Matthews and Albelda, the report quantifies key cost and coverage trade-offs among three paid family and medical leave proposals (pending the Secretary of State’s approval of the ballot measure signatures).
While they differ in eligibility requirements, amount of maximum benefit, percent of wage replaced, and number of maximum weeks for family leave, each program extends coverage to most workers and does so by spreading and sharing the costs across most of the Massachusetts workforce. Yet, as Clayton-Matthews and Albelda point out, no single paid family and medical leave program will perfectly balance the needs of workers and their employers. The economists suggest using elements from the three proposals to assure that workers with inadequate leave are covered, get sufficient wage replacement, and have enough time to take care of a serious health condition or to have and/or bond with a new child.
“The United States is one of the few countries that does not have a nation-wide policy that provides paid maternity leave or guarantees paid medical leave or paid leave for caring for sick family members. These policies improve the well-being of young children and enable workers to take care of themselves or family members while remaining attached to the labor force. Many employers have paid leave benefits, but these tend to be large employers with well-paid workers. Lower-paid workers and employees of small businesses are generally without any benefits and without any job protections if they take a temporary leave.” – Alan Clayton-Matthews, Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy; Director, PhD in Public Policy; Senior Research Associate, Dukakis Center
In the absence of federal programs, five states and Washington, D.C. have initiated paid leave programs and several other states are considering paid family and medical leave programs.
This policy brief was funded by The Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts, a fund of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. Read the entire report.
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