Funded on September 1, 2022

An extensive body of research documents the benefits of access to paid leave for new parents and their children, as well as health benefits for workers, sick family members, and in the workplace. A growing body of evidence links paid family and medical leave (PFML) with decreased low-birthweight births and infant mortality, increased breastfeeding, improved maternal mental health, improved self-rated health, and increased postpartum care attendance. But without a national paid leave policy, and with only seven states with PFML laws currently in effect, access to paid leave remains limited and inequitably distributed. Workers of color are significantly less likely to report access to paid leave, even in states with PFML laws. This is partly because of eligibility restrictions that disproportionately exclude workers of color but also may stem from a lack of awareness among people eligible for PFML.

This project will investigate the following:

  • Do state PFML policies narrow racial and ethnic gaps in access to paid leave?
  • In states with PFML laws, do workers of color (especially immigrant workers) understand their rights as well as other workers (which is crucial for the laws to be able to narrow racial inequities)?