DU researchers look into economics of paid family leave

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Colorado workers would receive an average of $671 in weekly benefits if the bill for paid family leave passes, according to research from the University of Denver and Colorado Women’s College. The research was done by the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) at DU, according to a news release. The university’s Department of Economics also contributed to the report.

Senate Bill 19-188 would allow for 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a sick family member, tend to a personal medical issue or take care of a new child. If passed, Colorado would be the seventh state to provide these benefits, the release said.

The bill passed the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on a 3-2 vote March 13 and moves to the Finance Committee before eventual consideration by the full Senate.

Jennifer Greenfield, the lead author of the study and assistant professor at GSSW, said in the release that not having a program to address paid family leave has become a problem for Colorado. She added that Colorado is one of the states most impacted by the Baby Boomer generation.

“Paid leave is important for parents of newborns, but also for other caregivers,” Greenfield said. “The population of people aged 65 and above is expected to increase by 61 percent by 2030, and more than one-third of those adults will need some form of long-term care. We must find a way to help Colorado workers who also serve as a caregiver for a child or aging family member.”

Research shows that nearly one-third of employees have left jobs because of care-giving responsibilities, the release stated. The average time to replace a worker is 42 days, and businesses will often spend one-fifth of an employee’s annual salary in the search.

Greenfield’s research looked into providing a sustainable model for paid family leave. The model is based on the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act, which was first introduced to Colorado lawmakers in 2015. The program would be fully funded by workers and employers contributing a maximum of 0.678 percent of payroll, the release said.

The study estimated that 131,000 people, or 5 percent of eligible workers in Colorado, would access benefits each year for an average leave duration of nine weeks. The average benefits those workers would receive each week is $671. The benefit amount was based off employee payroll, with the maximum benefit amount at $1,000 per week.

To read the full report, visit https://bit.ly/2ThojJs.

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