Washington D.C., Mar 24, 2017 / 08:56 am (CNA).- A new report by the Pew Research Center has found that the overwhelming majority of Americans support paid family and medical leave for workers. More than 80 percent of adult Americans surveyed believe that women should have paid maternity leave, and just under 70 percent support paid paternity leave.
When it comes to paid leave for new fathers, there are significant generational differences. Of those under 30 years of age, 82 percent believe dads should get paid leave after a birth or adoption. Support drops to 76 percent among respondents from 30-49 years of age, and 59 percent for those 50 and older.
Support for paid family leave was a rare issue of agreement between both candidates in the last presidential election, although Democrats and Republicans have general disagreement on the extent to which the government should be involved in ensuring this benefit.
The study, based on two surveys conducted late last year, found that there is currently a drastic difference in leave opportunities between higher and lower income workers. Some 60 percent of leave takers with annual household incomes from $30,000 to $74,999 received at least some pay when they took family or medical leave. The same is true for 74 percent of those with incomes of $75,000 or more. But that number drops to 37 percent for leave takers with incomes under $30,000.
For those who take unpaid or partially paid leave, the shortfall in income often proves to be a significant financial strain. The report found that 41 percent of people in this situation cut their leave short, 37 percent took on debt, and 33 percent put off paying bills. Among lower-income workers who took unpaid or partially paid parental leave, nearly half went on public assistance to cover lost income. Meanwhile, a little more than half of those who took parental leave said they took less time off than they needed or wanted to take. Lost income was the top reason cited, followed by concerns about the impact that additional leave would have on their jobs.
One in four women who took maternity leave in past two years say it negatively impacted their job or career. Another area of strong agreement: about three-quarters of respondents believed that employers who offer paid leave are more likely to attract and keep good workers than employers who do not offer paid leave.