Americans Widely Support Paid Family and Medical Leave, but Differ Over Specific Policies

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Source: Pew Research Center

       A growing share of working parents and an aging population have put pressure on more American workers as they balance family caregiving responsibilities and work obligations. Amid these changes, the issue of paid family and medical leave has captured the attention of policymakers and advocates across the political and ideological spectrum.

A new study conducted by Pew Research Center finds that Americans largely support paid leave, and most supporters say employers, rather than the federal or state government, should cover the costs. Still, the public is sharply divided over whether the government should require employers to provide this benefit or let employers decide for themselves, and relatively few see expanding paid leave as a top policy priority.

While majorities of adults express support for paid leave for mothers and fathers after the birth or adoption of their child, as well as for workers who need to care for a family member with a serious health condition or to deal with their own medical issues, support is greater in some cases than in others. About eight-in-ten Americans (82%) say mothers should have paid maternity leave, while fewer (69%) support paid paternity leave. And those who favor paid maternity and paternity leave say mothers should receive considerably more time off than fathers (a median of 8.6 weeks off for mothers vs. 4.3 weeks for fathers).

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