Six states currently have paid family leave policies on the books. If Colorado passes a similar policy, the average worker would receive an average weekly benefit of about $671. That's according to a recent study published by the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work in collaboration with the Colorado Women’s College.
The study's lead author — Jennifer Greenfield — says their research was based on programs in other states that require employers and employees to both contribute into a statewide social insurance program.
"We know that it's difficult for state and local government to be able to foot the bill for this, and that also the smallest businesses may have difficulty," Greenfield said. "So, I anticipate that legislation that comes out of Colorado would have some exemptions or discounts for employers like that."
Greenfield says workers across Colorado would have to contribute .34 percent of annual wages to fund a Paid Family Leave program. Combined, workers and employers would have to contribute about .678 percent of annual payroll to fund the program.
Data from other states with paid leave plans, some of which include Washington state, Massachusetts and recently New Jersey, shows employees who use paid leave are more productive and save money in other costs such as child care and caretaker services.
"And so, it actually benefits both the worker and their household because we just do a better job at work, when we know that we can take that family leave and come back to that same job," said Greenfield.
The Pew Research Center says more than a quarter of Americans have taken time off over the last two years due to a family emergency or the birth of a child. Nearly one out of 10 Coloradans is acting as an unpaid caregiver to someone aged 50 or older, and 60 percent of those caregivers are also employed.