The California Family
Leave Research Project, housed at the UCLA Institute
for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE), is an initiative designed to
explore the effects of the state's new paid family leave
program, which went into effect on July 1, 2004.
California was the first state in the U.S. to introduce
a paid family leave law, supplementing the decade-old
federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides
unpaid, job-protected leaves for all public sector employees
and for private sector employees in larger firms.
The Project has several funding sources: the Sloan Foundation;
the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development,
and the University of California Institute for Labor
The research team is led by
Dr. Ruth Milkman, Director of the UCLA Institute
for Research on Labor and Employment, and
Dr. Eileen Appelbaum, Director of the Center for
Women and Work at the Rutgers University School of Management
and Labor Relations, both of whom have published extensively
on workplace policies and practices.
The new California law presents a unique research opportunity.
The project's first phase was devoted to collecting baseline
data before the law goes into effect, whereas later
phases will compare those baseline results to new data
collected after the law has been implemented and fully
Two very brief preliminary surveys were conducted in
2003, as part of larger data collection efforts. The
project's first briefing paper, Paid
Family Leave in California: New Research Findings,
reports on the key findings from that initial research.
The research conducted thus far includes three main components:
This research is designed to illuminate the actual experiences
and concerns of both employees and employers in order
to inform the public policymaking process.
- A targeted survey of working Californians to assess
attitudes toward paid family leave, awareness of
the new law, likely utilization rates, perceptions
of the impact on actual or potential leaves on careers
and on the health of family members.
- A survey of employers to gather data on the impact
of leaves on turnover, productivity, and on the
costs (administrative and other) of leaves to employers.
- Detailed case studies of employers, based on site
visits and interviews with managers to gain a better
understanding of how employers cope with these issues.