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News Release

Department awards $1.55M to study paid family, medical leave implementation

US Labor Secretary: Paid leave for the good of our families, strength of our economy'

WASHINGTON – Continuing its efforts to support working families and encourage policies that reflect the realities of the 21st Century workforce, the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau today awarded $1.55 million in grants to research and analyze how paid leave programs can be developed and implemented across the country.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez made the funding announcement today at the Center for American Progress. The Secretary discussed state and local paid leave initiatives in the U.S. at an event, titled "To Fight Inequality, Support Women and Families." After his remarks, the Center's Senior Fellow Judith Warner moderated a panel discussion on how to use policies such as paid family leave to fight income inequality.

Millions of working Americans have caregiving responsibilities for both young children and aging parents, but only 12 percent of private-sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employers. Those without access to paid family leave are unable to care for seriously ill loved ones without losing their paychecks or risking their jobs.

"The United States is one of the few countries on Earth without national paid leave. Fortunately, we have seen remarkable progress outside of Washington, where innovative state and local officials are designing paid-leave policies that work for their citizens," said Perez. "These studies will help further our understanding of the issue and design programs that work for our economy. We must expand paid family and medical leave, for the good of our families and the strength of our economy."

The grants funded by today's award announcement are as follows:

These grants build on a 2014 Women's Bureau grant program that awarded $500,000 to support paid leave feasibility studies in three states and the District of Columbia.

The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees unpaid, job-protected leave for workers to care for their newborn or newly adopted children, seriously ill family members, or their own health needs. However, many workers are unable to take unpaid time off because they cannot afford to do so. In recent years, a few states have implemented paid leave programs to ensure that workers have the economic security to meet their families' needs. Paid leave programs have been shown to improve health outcomes for children, ill adults and seniors; reduce turnover and increase employee retention, which cuts down on training costs for businesses; keep workers attached to the labor force; and boost earnings over time.

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September 29, 2015
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