Most want paid family leave

July 11, 2013, 6:42 PM GMT+0

Most Americans think that people on family leave should be paid - though many support a shorter legal minimum.

Rhode Island is set to become the third state to pass a law mandating payments for workers who take time off after the birth of a new child or to take care of an ill relative, in this case by creating a new state insurance fund to partially re-imburse workers for lost earnings. Federal law currently requires companies with more than 50 workers to offer a minimum of 12 weeks unpaid family leave. Only two other countries - Swaziland and Papua New Guinea - do not have national laws guaranteeing paid family leave.

The latest YouGov research shows that most Americans (51%) support some sort of payment during family leave, with only 25% thinking that family leave should be unpaid.

There is a significant partisan split on the issue of paid family leave, however, with 65% of Democrats supporting some sort of pay during family leave. Among Republicans 37% support some sort of paid family leave, almost exactly the same as the 38% who oppose paid family leave.

Support for requiring employers to offer family leave itself is overwhelming, with 83% supporting maternity leave and 71% supporting leave for people caring for seriously ill relatives. Opinions generally favor current laws, however, with 25% supporting the current three-month rule, while 23% actually think the legal minimum should be lowered to one month. Only 20% support longer leave periods.