States Consider Paid Leave Programs for Caregivers
Eight states have bills under consideration that include some form of paid leave for employees who serve as caregivers for family members, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Illinois and Washington might establish health insurance programs; Hawaii and Minnesota might revise the definition of sick leave; Massachusetts and New Jersey might establish a paid leave benefit; New York might allow employees to defer their paychecks tax-free; and Pennsylvania might offer tax credits to employers that offer paid leave.
According to Kathleen Kelley, executive director of the Family Caregiver Alliance, states have begun to consider some form of paid leave for employees who serve as caregivers for family members in response to "a growing awareness that we have all these people in the work force, particularly in their 40s and 50s, who have these multiple responsibilities."
Many states and employers have raised concerns about the cost of paid leave for employees who serve as caregivers for family members, but supporters maintain that employers might benefit. According to the supporters, surveys indicate that 94% of employees who take paid leave later return to their employers and that 76% who take unpaid leave do not return.
In 2004, California established a program that offers paid leave to employees who serve as caregivers for family members. Among the 176,085 California residents who participated in the program in the first year, 12% took paid leave to serve as caregivers for family members, and most took leave to bond with newborns.
The average duration of the paid leave among California residents who participated in the program was less than five weeks, according to FCA. California employees pay a small stipend per paycheck -- no more than $63.53 annually in 2005 -- into the State Disability Insurance program to fund the program.
California residents who participate in the program can collect 55% of their weekly paychecks or a maximum of $840 weekly for as long as six weeks (Greene, Wall Street Journal, 7/25).