New polling in 15 states shows strong support for national policies that support working families. By a nearly two-to-one margin, 61 percent of voters in these states support the creation of a national paid family and medical leave fund, 69 percent support a paid sick days law and 57 percent support increasing access to high-quality affordable child care.
Commissioned by 9to5 and the 14 other national organizations that make up the Work Family Strategy Council, these new results provide further evidence of the strong public demand for policies that help people manage family and work responsibilities.
Surveys were conducted among 9,611 registered voters between July 7-10 in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin and the results were aggregated and averaged across the states. Key findings from the aggregated data include:
- Voters across states say they favor a law that would create a national paid family and medical leave fund: 61 percent say they favor such a law, 44 percent say they strongly favor one, and only 34 percent express any opposition.
“I worked full-time as a hotel security guard when my father and daughter needed surgery at the same time. Although FMLA is great and enabled me to keep my job, my time was unpaid. I had to make hard choices about buying medicine or paying rent. I got an eviction notice and it took four months to just partially catch up on my bills,” says 9to5 Colorado activist and organizer Shelby Ramirez Martinez. “Having paid family and medical leave is necessary now and for the future of our families. That’s why I’ve gotten involved with 9to5 and am taking action for a paid family and medical leave insurance program, so all of us can be there for our families when our care is needed.”
- Support for paid family and medical leave spans political parties: 84 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of Independents and 42 percent of Republicans say they favor a national paid family and medical leave fund.
- A strong majority of people surveyed say they face challenges when managing job, family and personal responsibilities: 63 percent of full-time workers and 67 percent of part-time workers say they would be likely to face significant economic hardship if they had to take time from their jobs without pay to care for a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one or deal with their own serious health issue.
Despite the nearly universal challenges people face in managing the demands of job and family, only 12 percent of private sector workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, and only 61 percent have access to paid sick days. For lower-wage workers, access to paid time off to use for family and medical needs is even rarer. The new data suggest voters strongly favor changing these realities.
“As an advocate for people with lupus, I have heard many stories of people who live in fear of not having access to paid sick leave and being forced to work while sick. Many need assistance from caregivers to go to doctor appointments,” says Kim Schofield, a 9to5 leader and chapter board member in Georgia who also lives with lupus. “Paid sick days and family medical leave insurance laws will be a victory for everyone. They send a message that corporate America has moved from a focus on profits to valuing and supporting the needs of its employees.”
- Voters in all 15 states say they would be more likely to vote for an elected official or candidate who supports creating a paid family and medical leave fund.
9to5 Wisconsin board member Tomika Gray-Vukovic says, “When my daughter was born, I was home for one week; then she passed away. Since I was technically not on maternity leave, my employer kept asking, ‘When are you coming back to work?’ After she died, I had no money to pay for the funeral, so I had to go back the third week. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. If I had just had some income, I would have been able to take care of myself. I didn’t have time to grieve, or deal with the stress of going back to work. I didn’t know about family leave at the time. Now I know I need to be part of my community and fight for affordable leave for all of us.”
- Voters also strongly support a national paid sick days standard and increased access to high-quality, affordable child care: 69 percent say they favor a law that would guarantee all workers the right to earn paid sick days from their employers; only 28 percent express opposition. Additionally, 57 percent say they favor increased access to high-quality, affordable child care; 35 percent express opposition.
“We are pleased, but not surprised, to see high rates of support for paid sick days, paid family and medical leave insurance, and affordable quality child care across the states and across nearly every demographic. We hope that candidates and elected officials at every level pay attention to the fact that their constituents support these family flexible workplace policies and expect them to do the same. Working families want to see action on these issues from their political leaders,” says Linda Meric, Executive Director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women.
“What’s new isn’t the breadth of support for these policies, but the growing recognition that solutions are possible, as demonstrated by the wins for paid sick days in 35 locations and for paid family leave in 4 states, with many more on the horizon,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of the Family Values @ Work network of state coalitions, led by 9to5 in Colorado, Georgia and Wisconsin. “Voters are seeing they can make a difference by banding together and by holding politicians accountable.”