About the Study

In 2017, the Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) funded contractors IMPAQ International and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) to conduct the Microsimulation Model on Worker Leave. The goal of the study was to produce an updated, open-source, publicly available simulation tool based on the Albelda Clayton-Matthews/IWPR Paid Family and Medical Leave Simulation Model (ACM model). The resulting Worker Paid Leave Usage Simulation (Worker PLUS) is an open-source simulation tool that can be used by researchers and federal, state, and local policy makers to estimate the effects of various worker leave scenarios and policy options on worker leave-taking behavior, and to estimate the benefits paid as well as costs of administering any given program.

The Worker PLUS model employs public microdata from the Department of Labor’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Employee Survey to train models for individual-level leave needs and behaviors. When a user inputs paid leave program parameters, the model simulates specific leave-taking behavior and outcomes using demographic data from the five-year American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS). The simulation engines have been developed in both Python and R, two of the most popular open-source programming languages, and the model code is fully transparent and publicly available to facilitate future data updates and model development. The model offers a graphical interface for increased accessibility by non-technical users.

Users can download all of the files needed to install and run the Worker PLUS simulator below, as well as a user manual and data dictionary. A companion to the simulation model, users can find a resource document that reviews the different types of administrative costs observed in planned and extant state-level paid family and medical leave programs and how these costs vary across states, and an Excel template that helps user plan, estimate and test the administrative costs of running a new program. A series of issue briefs also accompany the simulator to help researchers, policy analysts, and the public understand and use the Worker PLUS model. The issue briefs explore example simulations, model testing, and benchmarking studies.

The DOL-funded study is a result of the annual process to determine the Department’s research priorities for the upcoming year. It contributes to the labor evidence base to inform data, methods, and tools and worker leave programs and policies and addresses Department strategic goals and priorities.

Download the summary

How Worker Paid Leave Usage Simulation Works

Graphic representation of a Worker PLUS Model

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) sponsors independent evaluations and research, primarily conducted by external, third-party contractors in accordance with the Department of Labor Evaluation Policy. CEO’s research development process includes extensive technical review at the design, data collection and analysis stage, including: external contractor review and OMB review and approval of data collection methods and instruments per the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), Institutional Review Board (IRB) review to ensure studies adhere to the highest ethical standards, review by academic peers (e.g., Technical Working Groups), and inputs from relevant DOL agency and program officials and CEO technical staff. Final reports undergo an additional independent expert technical review and a review for Section 508 compliance prior to publication. The resulting reports represent findings from this independent research and do not represent DOL positions or policies.