Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Ann O’Leary: The social and economic benefits of paid family leave

Ann O’Leary, Testimony before a Joint Session of the Washington State Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection and House Labor and Workforce Development Committees

Thank you for inviting me to testify before you today. My name is Ann O’Leary. I am the Children and Families Program Director at The Center for the Next Generation, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank in San Francisco, and a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

I come before you as an academic and policy expert on the subject of work-family laws and policy. I have authored numerous scholarly articles and policy reports on the subject, and in the late 1990s I worked at the federal level on a federal regulation that would have allowed states to use their Unemployment Insurance systems to provide paid parental leave.

Today, I am here to review the research on the social and economic benefits of paid family leave. My testimony is drawn in large part from a report that I co-authored with a team of professors and lawyers from UC Berkeley School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center—Family Security Insurance: A New Foundation for Economic Security.

In writing this report, our team did an extensive review of social science literature to develop a research-based proposal for modernizing our current social insurance system to provide income replacement when people take time off from work because of one of the three following significant life events:

  • One’s own serious illness or temporary disability that renders a worker unable to perform his or her job;
  • Arrival of a newborn, newly adopted or newly placed foster child who needs care and time to bond with parents; and
  • The serious illness of a family member in need of care.
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