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October 1989, Vol. 112, No. 10
Employer provisions for parental leave
Joseph R. Meisenheimer II
Growth in the number of two-earner families and in the number of working women of childbearing age has stimulated interest in leave arrangements for working parents. But what arrangements are available for new parents who need time off from work to care for infants? A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey found that while parental leave may provoke much discussion, it is not widely available to employees. For example, in 1988, only 36 percent of the full-time employees in medium and large firms in private industry were covered by maternity or paternity leave policies-2 percent of them were under policies providing for paid leave.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' 1988 Employee Benefits Survey provides representative data for approximately 31 million full-time employees of establishments employing 100 workers or more.1 This article analyzes survey data on the incidence and the provisions of employers' parental leave policies. In addition, legislative developments in this country and abroad are summarized.
Data from the Current Population Survey2 document the increasing labor force participation of women. In 1988, 57 percent of all women were in the labor force, as were 71 percent of women between the childbearing ages of 16 and 44 years, up from 42 percent and 47 percent, respectively, in 1968. Further, three-fourths of the working women held full-time jobs in 1988.3
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1 The 1988 Employee Benefits Survey is a sample survey of approximately 2,500 private sector establishments in the District of Columbia and all States, except Alaska and Hawaii. The survey provides data on a variety of employee benefits, such as leave benefits, short- and long-term disability coverage, health benefits, life insurance, retirement and capital accumulation plans, child care, employee assistance programs, and educational assistance. Survey data are published in a Department of Labor news release, in Bulletin 2336, Employee Benefits in Medium and Large Firms, 1988 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1989), and in articles in the Monthly Labor Review.
2 The Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of about 55,800 households, provides information on the labor force, employment, and unemployment by demographic and economic characteristics.
3 Employment and Earnings, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 1989.
Family-related benefits in the workplace.Mar. 1990.
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