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

SIEPR
Nov 2021
Working Paper
21-053
By  Ann P. Bartel, Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, Meredith Slopen, and Jane Waldfogel

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.

Publication Keywords: 
paid family leave
COVID-19
Small business
employer attitudes
employer surveys