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Why Is Paid Family Leave So Important for All Generations?

Two-thirds of all employees would leave their job for one with better family/lifestyle benefits.1 From Millennials to Gen X, Boomers and even Gen Z — each generation values time off to care for family members. Depending on their age and life stage, they may be seeking Paid Family Leave for parental leave, caregiving or both. Let's explore what is driving Paid Family Leave to the top of employees' wish lists.

Portrait of a Caregiver2

60% female. 40% male

34% work full-time; 25% work part time

Common example: A Gen X woman, aged 49, caring for a 69-year-old female relative, most likely her mother

But 1 out of 4 caregivers is a Millennial

3 Generations Are Stressed by Parental and Caregiving Needs

Why is every generation in the workplace looking for family-friendly employee benefits? Millennials, currently ages 23-38, are starting families or heading towards prime parenting years. Generation X is the classic “sandwich generation” — caring for both kids and aging parents. Boomers may also feel squeezed, between caring for spouses as well as very elderly family members or adult children. And even Gen Z is looking ahead to future family needs.

More than one in six working Americans are also unpaid caregivers.2

Between 13 and 22 percent of workers are balancing full- and part-time work with caregiving. That means they’re assisting family members, relatives or friends with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. While almost half are caring for a parent or in-law, 14 percent are caring for children.2

What's more, Gen Xers, Millennials and even Gen Z may feel growing pressure soon. As Boomers age, the older adult population in the U.S. will nearly double in size by 2050 — from 48 million to 88 million. The fastest growing group? People age 80 and over, who typically have greater needs for physical and cognitive care.3

Millennials Are Pushing for Paid Family Leave2

83% of Millennials would leave their job for one with better family/lifestyle benefits

Millennials' priorities are based in real-life needs that include parental leave and family caregiving:

  • They are the largest group of new parents.1
  • One out of four are already providing family caregiving, averaging 21.2 hours a week and 2.8 years to date.2

Following Europe's lead, Millennials are seeking — and increasingly getting — better parental leave policies for both genders and often, non-traditional families.5 That emphasis reflects their more egalitarian views around family, career and gender roles.1

Millennial caregivers are also equally likely to be male or female.2 But most fall back on traditional roles if their workplaces lack family-friendly policies.1 That may put an even bigger burden on women who juggle work and family.

“Sandwiched” Gen Xers Are Juggling Big Jobs, Parenting and Caregiving

While Millennials are getting the most attention, more of today's managers are Gen Xers. This sandwich generation is in their peak career years. Along with big work demands, many are stretched thin between parenting and caregiving for aging parents. When they evaluate benefits packages, high-performing Gen Xers can afford to be picky. They value flexible work arrangements, generous family leave policies and creative time-off programs.6

Don't Overlook Boomers: 41 Million Are Still Working

Remember that Boomers still make up 25 percent of the workforce.5 Instead of heading towards retirement, a growing number are feeling the strain of caring for elderly parents, spouses or adult children. Boomers also have to cope with their own health conditions.7 The combined Paid Family and Medical Leave programs that Washington, Massachusetts and other state and local governments are adopting may help address both trends.

Gen Z — Looking Ahead

Young as they are, Gen Z members are savvy employees. Parental leave policies rank fifth on their list of “Most Important Employer Benefits and Compensation Aspects.”8 While caregiving may not be on Gen Z's horizon yet, employers need to plan ahead. Estimates predict Gen Z will represent 75 percent of the workforce by 2030.9

All Sides Feel the Pain — and the Demand

Reduced hours due to caregiving hurt more than employees' paychecks. According to 41 percent of working parents, the lack of family assistance-related benefits has hurt their work performance.1

For employers, costs related to caregiving equal a loss of almost $38 billion each year.10 That includes the costs of absenteeism, lower productivity and higher costs for employees' health care.

When you combine potential savings with the need to attract talent in a tight labor market, there’s a big opportunity to make Paid Family Leave a win/win.

The Cost of Caregiving

90% of employees have left work, and 30% cut back by 6 or more hours per week due to family responsibilities

Employers' costs related to caregiving equal $38 billion a year

Watch This Space

The Standard went all out to help our customers prepare for New York’s PFL launch in January 2018. And we’re committed to partnering with employers across the country.

To find our latest answers and resources, check back here on Relatively Speaking, our PFL-focused blog. Or subscribe   to the RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss any updates.

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Content Topics

More About Demographic Groups

Learn how one group of workers — the Sandwich Generation — is balancing being a productive employee in the workplace with the challenges of caregiving for children and elderly family members at home.
Only 60% of employers offer family leave policies — often unpaid. A new study by The Standard and DMEC shows the impacts of caregiving on U.S. workers and the need for more flexible support. A recent webinar also offers solutions that go beyond leave.
Do paid family leave laws help women stay in the workforce? Yes! A recent study shows that PFL laws can dramatically lower the number of women who drop out of the workforce after having a baby. See the difference PFL makes.
Taking care of aging relatives is taking a growing toll on millions of Americans. Who’s paying the costs — in time, careers, incomes and productivity? See what's weighing workers and employers down. And what’s looking up.
One gift that most dads in the U.S. did not get on Father’s Day? Paid paternity or family leave. See why new dads don’t take more time off — and why it matters so much. Explore the current state of parental leave and find out where men, women and policies stand on caregiving.
Trying to keep track of all the legislative action on Paid Family Leave can make your head spin. Here's a one-stop guide to what’s happening now and what’s on the horizon for 2019. Plus, a look at how political power shifts could favor the push for Paid Family Leave.
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