Few Parents of Ill Children Use Paid Leave

Since 2004, California's Paid Family Leave Insurance Program (PFLI) has offered paid leave to care for an ill family member, providing six weeks of non-job-protected paid leave annually at approximately 55 percent of salary. It is a government-mandated insurance programme that employees pay for through automatic payroll deductions. This programme has been a model for state and federal paid family leave efforts, yet its impact is unknown.

The scientists examined parents' reports of taking leave before the start of PFLI (November 2003 to January 2004; n = 754) and after (November 2005 to January 2006; n = 766) its implementation. The researchers conducted telephone interviews with parents randomly sampled from one children's hospital in California (with PFLI) and one in Illinois (without PFLI).

The researchers found that only 77 parents (18 percent) reported having heard of PFLI and only 20 (five percent) reported using it. California's PFLI was not associated with an increase in the percentage of parents taking leave from before to after initiation of the programme. Before PFLI began, 295 parents (81 percent) at the California site and 290 parents (78 percent) at the Illinois site took at least one day of leave in the previous year to care for their ill child compared with after PFLI began (327 parents [79 percent] at the California site and 296 parents [79 percent] at the Illinois site).

The PFLI was also not associated with an increase in the amount of leave parents took. Before PFLI began, 21 percent of parents at the California site and 14 percent of parents at the Illinois site took at least four weeks compared with after (19 percent of parents at the California site and eleven percent of parents at the Illinois site). Before PFLI began, 41 percent of parents at the California site and 36 percent of parents at the Illinois site said that at least once in the past year they did not miss work despite believing their child's illness necessitated it. These figures were similar after PFLI began.

MEDICA.de; Source: JAMA and Archives Journals