Analysis: Louisiana workers need national paid leave program

An analysis of demographic data in Louisiana released this week reveals the significant and growing need for a national paid family and medical leave plan that covers all working people in the state for the full range of serious caregiving and medical reasons.

The analysis, conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families, comes ahead of the 25th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The full set of findings for Louisiana is available here. Similar findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found at NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeaveMeansMap.

“Twenty-five years after the FMLA was signed into law, it is past time to take the next step by ensuring paid leave for all working people,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, which drafted the FMLA. “The FMLA has transformed our workplaces and culture in tremendously positive ways, but these data show that unpaid leave is inaccessible for too many people. Working people and families are caught between the demands of their jobs and their families, and as a result, our economy and businesses are not reaching their full potential.”

The Louisiana analysis sheds light on:

  • In 71 percent of Louisiana households with children – more than 730,000 homes – all parents hold jobs;
  • In Louisiana, 82 percent of Black mothers, 50 percent of Latina mothers and 46 percent of white mothers are key breadwinners for their families;
  • In less than 15 years, the share of Louisiana’s population age 65 and older will grow by nearly one-fifth;
  • Three people die every day from drug overdoses in Louisiana;
  • In Louisiana, there is a 10-percentage point gap in labor force participation between men and women; and
  • A national paid leave plan would reduce the number of working families in Louisiana facing significant economic insecurity when they need to take family and medical leave by 82 percent.

Louisiana legislators have recently considered paid leave at the state level. Nationally, the FMLA guarantees unpaid leave, but it is inaccessible to 65 percent of workers in Louisiana because they either are not covered by the law or cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides.

Just 15 percent of workers in the United States have paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have paid medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance.

“We now have a powerful body of evidence that shows the widespread benefits of paid family and medical leave, the urgent need for it, and the key components of a meaningful policy that would promote gender and economic equality, strengthen businesses and our economy, and promote the culture change we need,” explained Vicki Shabo, vice president for workplace policies and strategies at the National Partnership. “Lawmakers who advance strong paid leave proposals demonstrate that they understand their constituents’ needs and the value we all place on knowing we can care for our loved ones without risking our jobs. Voters’ support for a strong national paid family and medical leave law cuts across parties and ideologies, and large and small companies say they support a national paid leave plan too. It is past time for all lawmakers to show the same interest in real policy solutions.”