Most Americans would not be happy with other ways to pay for federal leave, according to Cato’s survey. A large majority — 76 percent — do not want such a program if it means cutting funding to programs such as Social Security, Medicare or education.
In addition, 57 percent said they are against a federal paid leave program if it means increasing the federal deficit.
Data from the Pew Research Center found that most Americans — 62 percent — think that employers should pay for family leave. A much smaller number, 24 percent, said the government — either federal or state — should absorb the costs.
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The U.S. is one of the few developed countries without a national paid family leave program, according to the Heritage Foundation. Instead, U.S. workers rely mostly on state-based and private paid leave programs.
Research from the Heritage Foundation estimated it would cost $114 billion over 10 years for a paid maternity leave program that would last up to 12 weeks and provide 50 percent to 60 percent of a worker’s pay. That price tag would go up to $198 billion over 10 years if 100 percent of pay was provided. Costs would balloon to $231 billion if it included all family medical leave.
Still, there is room for more workers to have access to wages when they take time off to attend to family or medical issues. While 63 percent of workers who took leave in the past two years received full pay, according to Pew’s research, 36 percent received no pay and 16 percent received partial pay.