Equity Matters: Lessons for Paid Family and Medical Leave

Today, approximately 33 million workers lack access to paid family and medical leave (PFML). As momentum grows for a federal policy, state and federal decision makers must avoid widening inequities and ensure benefits are accessible to all workers by paying attention to program design and implementation.

In order to build community and address inequities within PFML state programs, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Family Values at Work (FV@W), and others hosted government and community partners from states with PFML programs gathered in Tacoma, Washington for “Paid Leave Collaboration and Connections: A Convening for States Leading the Way,” in October 2019. It focused on advancing equity in state-level PFML efforts.

This report, Equity Matters: Lessons on Paid Family and Medical Leave Programs, offers lessons from the event to inform state and federal policymakers, administrators, and advocates in developing and carrying out equity-focused PFML programs.

The report highlights these strategies for advancing equity through PFML implementation:

  • Invite public feedback when developing regulations, using several strategies to gather input
  • Evaluate the PFML program’s information technology (IT) system and use it as a tool to advance equity
  • Create research practices that adequately assess equity while ensuring accessibility
  • Use a range of communications tactics and engage partners to reach diverse groups of workers and employers.
  • Prioritize customer service over operational efficiencies.
  • Instill values of equity and empathy across agency staff.