Design for Family Leave!

Poster & Postcard Designs
In Support of Job Protected Paid Family Leave

Presented by Coalition Resident Small Fries, Full Lives Collective

Introduction to Issue

As Californians we take a lot of pride in our quality of life and believe in creating a more equitable and healthy society. As a state we are leaders on a number of livability issues, including Paid Family Leave. California was the first state in the US to provide Paid Family Leave, however we are no longer at the forefront on this issue. We believe that DESIGN can help bring attention and build broad support to ensure job protected paid family leave for all Californians.
California is one of four states that has a Paid Family Leave law (all Californians who are a part- or full-time public- or private-sector employee who has contributed to the State Disability Insurance program through mandatory payroll deductions at some point during the previous 18 months), however under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) only employees of businesses with 50 or more employees are provided job protection when they take Paid Family Leave–meaning choosing to take Paid Family Leave could cost employees of smaller companies their jobs. A proposed bill, California Senate Bill 63 (SB 63), would expand job protection to employees of companies with 20 or more employees – covering an additional 2.6 million Californians and only impacting 6% of businesses. SB 63 is another step in the right direction, with your help we can build broad support for this and future efforts to expand job protected paid family leave to all Californians.

We are looking for designers, artists, friends to help us design images that can graphically represent the importance of Job Protected Paid Family Leave for California communities. These designs will help the California Work and Family Coalition, a statewide alliance of community organizations, unions, non-profits, and individuals dedicated to helping parents, caregivers, and families thrive. We do not work for the Coalition, but are collaborating with them to support their work in advocating for passage of SB 63. At the end of May, members of the Coalition, active citizens, and families will meet with members of the State Legislature to ask for their support in passing the bill. Your designs will help enhance the Coalition’s message and reach, be used as they meet with members of the legislature, and support future efforts in Los Angeles and California as more policies are presented to lawmakers. Your designs will also help folks around the state know that they are eligible for Paid Family Leave and may be eligible for job protected Family Leave.

How to Submit

Submission is now closed. Thank you to everyone contributed to this project! Check out the amazing posters here.

Some Useful Information About Family Leave

California Paid Family Leave
Legal Aid At Work Fact Sheet: Paid Family Leave Benefits

What is Family Leave?

Family leave is not just for caring for newborns. Family leave also helps parents, siblings, children take care of their sick or elderly relatives. At some point, most workers need time off to care for themselves and their loved ones. But many workers find that taking unpaid time off to meet their family duties places a severe economic burden on their families and is unmanageable. The result is that many families are forced to make a terrible choice—to forgo caring for their loved ones during times of medical need, or to leave their jobs and risk severe economic uncertainty. This choice is bad for families, for communities, and bad for our economy.

Paid Family Leave = Gender Equality

Existing income disparity between men and women often means that when families are asked to make a choice in caring for a loved one, women are often the family members that leave their jobs because the family as a whole will lose less income. Without job protection or paid leave, many women are unable to or feel uncomfortable returning to their jobs.

“Research shows that paid leave increases the likelihood that workers will return to work after childbirth, improves employee morale, has no or positive effects on workplace productivity, reduces costs to employers through improved employee retention, and improves family incomes…At least one study, cited by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (2007) finds that paid leave for fathers helps to foster gender equity, both in the workplace and in the home, since it shortens leaves for mothers, increasing their job tenure and potentially their wage growth.” – Women’s Policy Institute, Paid Parental Leave in the United States.

Paid Family Leave = Income Equality

Paid leave allows families of ALL incomes to take time off to care for their loved ones at the beginning, middle, or end of their lives, when they need it most.

Multiple studies have shown that leave is taken at higher rates by higher earners, earning $10,000 more than the median income, and women who have completed high school or college. Even with a 55% replacement rate under California Paid Family Leave, low-income families have low-participation rates in the program or do not take the full 6 weeks leave because of financial insecurity. Many families who are qualified can simply not afford to take the benefits (in response to this need, California expanded Paid Family Leave benefits so that in 2018 replacement rates will increase between 60 and 70% depending on income).

Family Leave Helps You Care for Elderly/Sick Relatives

In the first 10 years of California’s Paid Family Leave program, 12 to 13% of Californians who utilized Paid Family Leave did so to care for a sick family member.

Family Leave Benefits Infants and New Parents

Employed women who received 12 weeks or more of paid maternity leave were more likely to start breastfeeding their baby and continue to breastfeed for at least six months.

Another study, using data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study on Early Child Care finds that, compared with mothers who waited at least 12 weeks before going back to work after childbirth, returning to work sooner (less than 12 weeks) is linked to greater levels of depressive symptoms, stress, and self-reported poor health (Chatterji, Markowitz, and Brooks-Gunn 2011).

Family Leave Benefits Businesses

Many business groups throughout Los Angeles, California, and the United States are against expanding Job Protected Paid Family Leave, citing that it is bad for business. Opposition for job projection for Paid Family Leave comes primarily from the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Society for Human Resources Management. These organizations see SB 63 as a ‘job killer’. BUT, multiple studies in the United States and abroad demonstrate that providing Job Protected Paid Family Leave improves business outcomes.

Research on existing paid leave programs suggests that paid leave leads to negligible costs to employers in terms of temporary employee replacement costs or overtime paid to existing employees and has few if any costs–and potentially gains–in terms of employee morale and productivity (Women’s Policy Institute).

Providing family leave improves business outcomes. Retaining and attracting good employees can be difficult in the current market. Women with paid family leave are 93 percent more likely to be working after having a baby one year later, than those that take no leave. Furthermore, a Deloitte survey found that 77 percent of workers say that paid family leave could sway their choice of employer.

Family leave can also help promote company morale and values, as well as promote an employer as a brand leader. One of the most commonly cited reasons for those who improved their maternity leave policies was that it “reinforced the organization’s values.” More than 70% of employers offering improved leave policies reported an increase in productivity and 80% reported a productivity increase. Some employers saw that positive media attention helped bolster their brands, particularly if they expanded their policies or were first-movers in their industries.

The United States is Dead Last in Family Leave Policies

The United States is the only high-income country, and one of only eight countries in the world (Heymann and McNeill 2013), that does not mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns. The only other country that doesn’t guarantee paid leave for new mothers is Papua New Guinea, where agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the population.

Existing Family Leave Laws

The 1993 Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and it’s sister law the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but you have to work for a company with at least 50 employees working within a 75 mile radius (or for a public agency or an elementary or secondary school) to qualify. Plus, you have to have worked at least a year for your employer, racking up a minimum of 1,250 hours in the last 12 months.

In 2004, California adopted the Paid Family Leave (PFL) law which provides six weeks of wage replacement at 55% pay to all Californians. Job protection for this leave is provided through CFRA and FMLA. Both PFL and CFRA can be used for parents (including fathers and non-birthing parents) to bond with a new child (by birth, adoption, and foster). In 2016, the Paid Family Leave law was updated to increase participation in the program by low-income workers. Starting in 2018 the percentage of wage replacement will increase from 60 to 70 percent depending on income level.

Related laws provide disability pay and time off for pregnancy and childbirth. Since 1946, California has provided short term disability insurance (SDI), collected as a tax on employee income. Through SDI, birth mothers can apply for wage replacement of 55% (up to a maximum salary of approximately $110,000 annually) for pregnancy disability. Medical guidelines state that a woman is disabled four weeks before birth and six to eight weeks after depending on if it’s a vaginal or c-section birth; this disability can be extended as needed by a doctor. Although SDI can be collected for up to a year for any disability including pregnancy, a related law, Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) protects a birth mother’s job for only 17 weeks.

Why Family Leave Policies in California are Inadequate

While the claims on the Paid Family Leave (PFL) program have been steadily increasing over time, a 2014 study by the Center for Poverty Research finds that only about 25 to 40 percent of eligible new mothers utilize PFL to bond with their newborns. In 2014, total claims were 227,830, suggesting that less than 2 percent of the California workforce used this program for any reason.

One reason for the low utilization could be that while all employees are eligible for the paid family leave program, only employees who are also eligible for CFRA are guaranteed job protection. In other words, while paid leave is available, an employee can be fired or let go for taking unapproved time off to use the PFL wage replacement. As a result, some eligible workers do not take advantage of the paid leave because they are afraid of losing their jobs.

In fact, over 40 percent of California workers are not eligible for CFRA leave. According to a study from UC Santa Barbara, in 2010, 23 percent of women ineligible for CFRA benefits “lost their job or were told they would lose their job” for taking paid family leave to bond with their newborns. Another 37 percent of women who were eligible for paid family leave but ineligible for the CFRA did not take leave out of fear they would lose their jobs.

Secondly, in order to be CFRA-eligible, employees need to be at firms with more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius and have put in at least 1,250 hours in a year. This implies that typically a low-wage worker working few hours at a small firm, or someone working multiple part-time jobs is ineligible for CFRA. Finally, many workers were simply unaware of the program. According to a 2011 study, low income respondents, less educated, younger workers and immigrants had lower levels of information about the program.