Putting Families First in Wisconsin: Analyzing Paid Leave Insurance Program

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September 23, 2015
By: Laura Dresser and Chris Reynolds

This report analyzes paid family leave insurance could look like in Wisconsin. Paid leave insurance allows workers to take short-term paid leave in order to care for their families without fear of losing their jobs or significant loss of income. This is a policy that helps workers balance both work and family, and programs are already well established in California and New Jersey. Building off the experience in those two states, we estimate utilization and financing for a Paid Leave Insurance program for the state. Such a program would likely grow to support some 100,000 working Wisconsinites each year and could be supported by a premium on wages of 0.4 percent.


Paid leave is especially critical for the nearly three-in-ten working families in the state who have low income (below twice the poverty line) in spite of their strong commitment to work. For these families, sick and vacation leave is stingy or nonexistent, reliable day care for children or adults is prohibitively expensive, and workers themselves are more likely to have health challenges.

In this report, we draw on the experience of other states to simulate the costs and benefits of a prospective paid family leave insurance program in the state. Our work suggests that, with a modest premium on employee wages, a program could be designed that could support working families in the state when family needs are most pronounced. We hope that this data can help make the idea of paid leave insurance more concrete and the choices—and their associated costs and benefits—more clear.
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