New Program to Address Current Inequities
A policy brief released by McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy demonstrates the equalizing effects and affordability of a paid family and medical leave program as Massachusetts becomes the sixth state in the country to have such a program.
Yesterday Governor Baker signed into law a measure establishing a statewide paid family and medical leave program, considered by some to be one of the strongest and most generous paid leave programs in the country.
Authored by UMass Boston economist Randy Albelda and Alan Clayton-Matthews of Northeastern University, The Massachusetts Paid Leave Program: What Workers Can Expect to Pay and Receive, provides estimates on how much workers will contribute to the paid leave program slated to go into effect in 2019. The policy brief also estimates how much workers taking advantage of the new program might receive once the program begins providing partial wage replacement in 2021.
Based on a sophisticated simulator model developed by Albelda and Clayton-Matthews, data from the American Community Survey, and the parameters of the newly enacted legislation, the authors report that:
- On average, workers will pay $129 annually or $2.28 a week, matched by non-exempt employers.
- In 2021, when the minimum wage is scheduled to be $13.50, a minimum wage worker working full-time would earn $540 a week, be assessed $1.70 a week, and receive $432 a week while on leave.
- Median earners would be assessed a weekly contribution of $2.48 and would receive just under $587 a week.
The authors note that the new law will reduce existing inequities in employment benefits, since low-wage workers are currently the least likely to get paid time off from employers when on a family or medical leave and often can’t afford to lose any pay when not at work.
“This legislation is truly historic and will help to provide economic stability and security to workers and their families in the Commonwealth,” said Randy Albelda, professor of economics at UMass Boston and coauthor of the policy brief. “Massachusetts has shown the nation that we can achieve the policy goals of broad-based coverage for workers in need, adequate wage replacement, and program affordability.”
“Forty percent of women serve as primary breadwinners and they will finally have access to wage replacement when significant caregiving needs arise,” said Ann Bookman, director of the McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy. Bookman, a principal author of the 1996 bipartisan report to Congress on the impact of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), explained that adoption of a statewide paid leave program is a significant win for workers in Massachusetts.
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