According to Transamerica Centre for Retirement Studies research, less than one in every five women — 15% — worked for employers that provided emergency paid leave during the Covid-19 Jobs pandemic.
In contrast, only 22% of male workers had access to this benefit, which includes sick time and family and medical leave. The findings are based on an online survey conducted between November and December 2020, which also discovered that 35% of female workers are currently or have been caregivers at some point in their careers. This is lower than the 41 percent of male workers who said the same thing.
The data is based on a subsample of 3,109 for-profit workers. As a result, the survey excludes women who have left the workforce to care for family members, a trend that has accelerated since the pandemic.
According to Catherine Collinson, CEO, and president jobs of Transamerica studies Institute indicate that men and women are equally likely to be caregivers. Their research also indicates that younger generations, particularly millennials and Gen Z, are also highly likely to take on caregiving duties, in addition to older generations. “Family caregiving is an everybody issue,” Collinson said.
Transamerica’s research, titled “Life in the Pandemic: Women’s Health, Finances and Retirement Outlook,” comes as Washington lawmakers are poised to decide whether or not to include paid family leave in a social spending bill that is up for consideration.
President Joe Biden proposed 12 weeks of paid leave for workers, which has been reduced to four weeks. Nonetheless, because the proposal has been removed and then reintroduced into the legislation, it is unclear whether it will make it into the final version, assuming it makes it to Biden’s desk for his signature.
Notably, paid leave is still “relatively rare,” according to Collinson. Workers may be entitled to unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 if they meet specific criteria. Whether or not full-time workers have access to paid or unpaid leave is mainly at the discretion of their employers, though some states have stepped in with their own policies.
Part-time workers jobs, in particular, do not have access to the same benefits as full-time employees, according to Collinson. That means those employees, who are often women and people of color, don’t have the option to take time off, she says.
“The fact that we now have a very active, spirited national dialogue on paid family leave is cause for celebration,” Collinson said. Short-term setbacks can hinder workers’ earning power or access to benefits. Longer-term workers may have a tough time re-entering the workforce and find they have less saved when they retire. Having a formal paid leave policy can help shore up workers’ retirement security, she said. “Women continue to be at a greater risk than men of not achieving a financially secure retirement, and this issue has persisted for decades,” Collinson said.
According to the report, women who have caregiving responsibilities should carefully consider any changes to their employees to maintain their long-term financial security. This could include considering taking a leave of absence or working part-time rather than leaving the workforce entirely.
The majority of female caregivers surveyed (83 percent) said they had made work adjustments due to caregiving responsibilities. The most common changes were missing days of work (36%), working an alternate schedule (28%), and reducing their hours (27%).