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Two in Five Low-Wage Working Parents Receive No Paid Leave

Document date: April 22, 2004
Released online: April 22, 2004

Contact: Harold Leibovitz, (202) 261-5815, hleibovi@ui.urban.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2004—Forty-one percent of working parents with household incomes below twice the federal poverty level do not receive paid sick leave, vacation days, personal days, or other forms of compensated leave, according to new research from the Urban Institute's Assessing the New Federalism project. Only 16 percent of working parents with incomes above 200 percent of the poverty level do not receive paid leave.

Getting Time Off: Access to Leave among Working Parents, by Urban Institute researcher Katherin Ross Phillips, analyzes data from 2002's 40,000-household National Survey of America's Families. The policy brief explores how access to paid leave varies by household income, welfare situation, job tenure, gender, age of the worker, marital status, hours of work, and employer size. It also investigates the extent to which employees receive unpaid maternity or paternity leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

"Parents who are especially likely to need paid leave—those with young children and working welfare recipients—are less likely to have access to leave, especially paid leave," explains Ross Phillips. "Without job-protected leave, these working parents may be unable to keep their job in the event of a family crisis or even just a sick child."

Fifty-nine percent of working welfare recipients do not have access to paid leave compared with 42 percent of those who have left welfare since 2000, 27 percent of those who left before 2000, and 19 percent of those who never received welfare. Twenty-four percent of all parents with children younger than one do not earn any paid leave compared with 19 percent of those with children 7 to 12 years old.

When they do have access to paid leave, poor working parents, working welfare recipients, and working parents with young children are more likely than others to have only one workweek of leave or less.

Interestingly, job tenure is not associated with access to paid leave among poor working parents. Even after being at the same job for two or more years, poor working parents are no more likely to receive paid leave than their newly hired counterparts.

With few exceptions, most working parents have access to maternity or paternity leave. Even among groups with less access, such as poor working parents, the majority has rights to job-protected leave for the birth of a child. For instance, 34 percent of poor working parents report that they cannot take unpaid maternity or paternity leave compared with 26 percent of working parents with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of the poverty level and 18 percent of those with incomes at or above 200 percent of the poverty level.

Urban Institute research on low-wage work covers a variety of topics including "Jobs in the Downturn", A Profile of the Low-Wage Immigrant Workforce and Many Families Turn to Food Pantries for Help.

Getting Time Off: Access to Leave among Working Parents (Policy Brief B-57), by Urban Institute researcher Katherin Ross Phillips, is available online at http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=310977 or from the Urban Institute Publications Sales Office at 202-261-5687 or toll-free at 1-877-UIPRESS.

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance problems facing the nation. Assessing the New Federalism is a multiyear Urban Institute project designed to analyze the devolution of responsibility for social programs from the federal government to the states.

Topics/Tags: | Employment | Families and Parenting | Poverty, Assets and Safety Net

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