The Great Resignation—which includes the 3 million women who have left the workforce since early 2020 and the 4 million workers who quit their jobs in both August and September 2021—demonstrates the need for policymakers to enact a national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy.
According to the latest research on paid leave from the National Partnership for Women & Families, the recent employee exodus reveals that when employers fail to meet workers’ health and caregiving needs—they can’t keep them in jobs. The solution is to enact policies that support all workers, so they can stay employed.
“Policymakers have an opportunity to support workers like never before,” said Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Finding a good job is difficult enough, and supporting workers, especially those who have experienced the biggest setbacks because they have had to leave the workplace, is essential as we approach two years of pandemic-exacerbated job losses for women.”
As the new issue brief shows, the success of states with paid family and medical leave programs are a clear indicator of just how much national paid leave would help workers. Women in states with paid leave policies in place stay in the workforce at higher rates than women in states without it.
“The workforce participation numbers for women are so low because women are often caregivers,” said Lelaine Bigelow, interim vice president for economic justice at the National Partnership for Women & Families. “It’s alarming. And workers seem to be realizing that they can’t manage the pull of caregiving responsibilities without adequate support from their employers, which includes paid leave. They’re leaving because they likely don’t have a choice.”