State Paid Family and Medical Leave Programs Helped a Surge of Workers Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Brief

State Paid Family and Medical Leave Programs Helped a Surge of Workers Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 2, 2020

Abstract

As the federal government was working to enact legislation to provide workers with paid sick days and paid family and medical leave, states with existing paid leave programs were already assisting workers. This brief summarizes data from two such states, California and Rhode Island, and finds a surge in new claims for own medical and family caregiving leave. In California, new family caregiving claims, which includes claims to care for a child whose school or daycare is closed for COVID-related reasons, rose by 43 percent in March. In Rhode Island, where more recent data are available, they nearly tripled from February to March, before declining somewhat in April. In addition, while family caregiving claims by men in Rhode Island increased eight-fold, women’s claims rose even faster. The experience in California and Rhode Island shows that by having paid family and medical leave programs already in place, states made it possible for workers to access benefits early in the crisis.

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