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 and Employment.

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 institutionalized.

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:

  • 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.
This research is designed to illuminate the actual experiences and concerns of both employees and employers in order to inform the public policymaking process.
New Survey Findings
Released January 2008
Read Summary


"Paid Family Leave in California: New Research Findings"
Read Summary

November 2005 Interview with Ruth Milkman in Sloan Work and Family Research Network Newsletter