Compensation, Leave Management, Policy, and Compliance

Family Leave Isn’t an Option for Low Income Workers, Says Research

When a medical or family need arises, most people would like to take some time off without the fear of losing part of their pay—or even their job. But a recent Pew Research Center Study says many—particularly workers whose wages are low—feel unable to do so.leave

The study found that 62% of Americans have taken or are very likely to take family or medical leave at some point. Sixteen percent of those reporting said that, in the last 2 years, a situation arose in which they would have liked to take some time off but couldn’t.

Situations cited include the birth or adoption of a child, or caring for a family member whose health was in jeopardy. For workers whose incomes are under $30,000 per year, the figure rises to 30%.

The reasons workers said they could not take family or medical leave include feeling badly that coworkers would have to assume their responsibilities (42%), that the leave might impact their chances to advance in their job (40%), and the fear of losing their job (54%).

The most frequently cited reason, though, cited by 72% of respondents, was the concern about the financial impact of lost wages.

The situation varied somewhat by pay range: 76% of workers whose household income was under $30,000 per year said they could not afford to take a family or medical leave. For those with household earnings over $75,000, that was the reason cited in 65% of cases.

For those higher earning workers, the concern centered around the belief that no one else was capable of doing their job, the answer selected by 45% of them, compared to 31% for the lower earning workers.