By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Most Americans support paid family and medical leave and believe that employers, rather than the government, should cover the costs, but are divided on whether companies should be legally required to provide it, according to a report released Thursday. .
Across ages and political parties, Americans questioned by the Pew Research Center favored paid leave for new parents, sick workers, and employees caring for a family member with an illness.
But a large majority of Republicans said employers should be able to decide whether to pay for benefits, while Democrats want it to be mandatory.
Americans also did not rank expanding paid leave as a priority for President Donald Trump and Congress this year, placing it below terrorism, employment and immigration.
“It’s not as simple as ‘more people are supporting family and medical leave,'” said Juliana Horowitz, Pew’s associate director of research and co-author of the report.
“There are many complexities when it comes to what Americans say needs to be done in terms of who should provide it and how it should be delivered,” he added in an interview.
When people were asked about specific proposals, there was more support for providing tax incentives to companies to make it easier to provide the benefit than for allocating government funds to do so, Horowitz said.
The report’s findings are based on two national online surveys of nearly 8,000 adults, including 6,000 people who recently took or wanted to take family or medical leave. One survey was conducted from November 17 to December 1, 2016 and the other from November 17 to December 14.
The survey of workers who took leave showed large disparities in income levels. Thirty percent of workers making less than $ 30,000 a year said they couldn’t take leave when they needed or wanted it, compared to the highest 14 percent.
Seventy-four percent of people earning $ 75,000 or more who took a license received some payment, compared with 37 percent of people who took leave in the lower income brackets.
Low-income workers were also more likely to say that their supervisors were not supportive of taking time off.
“Half of the people making less than $ 30,000 who took leave in the last two years and did not receive full pay said they received public assistance or got into debt while not working,” Horowitz said.
The report also showed that personal medical leave and vacations to care for someone else were more common than maternity or paternity leave.
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