Support for Paid Family Leave among Small Employers Increases during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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011422-WP-Support for Paid Family Leave among Small Employers Increases during the COVID-19 Pandemic-Bartel Rossin-Slater Ruhm Slopen and Waldfogel

Ann P. Bartel, Columbia University
Maya Rossin-Slater, Stanford University
Christopher J. Ruhm, University of Virginia
Meredith Slopen, Columbia University
Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University


The United States is one of the few countries that does not guarantee paid family leave (PFL) to workers. Proposals for PFL legislation are often met with opposition from employer organizations, who fear disruptions to business, especially among small employers. But there has been limited data on employers’ views. We surveyed firms with 10-99 employees in New York and New Jersey on their attitudes towards PFL programs before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found high support for state PFL programs in 2019 that rose substantially over the course of the pandemic: by the fall of 2020, almost 70% of firms were supportive. Increases in support were larger among firms that had an employee use PFL, suggesting that experience with PFL led to employers becoming more supportive. Thus, concerns about negative impacts on small employers should not impede efforts to expand PFL at the state or federal levels.


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