New Poll Finds Just 36% Of California Voters Aware Of State’s Paid Family Leave Program

Study Shows Statewide Decline in Public Awareness With Lowest Awareness Among Hispanics, Low-Income Workers

To view the complete Field Poll results, go to:

Sacramento, CA—A new report out today shows that just one in three California registered voters (36%) is aware of the state’s Paid Family Leave Program, a decrease from 43% observed in a similar Field Poll survey three years ago. While decreases were seen among all major voter subgroups, Hispanics and low-income workers are the least likely to know about the program. Paid Family Leave was passed in 2002 and implemented in 2004, and since then has helped almost two million Californians care for newborns, adopted or foster children, sick parents and spouses by providing paid leave for up to six weeks.

The California Work & Family Coalition, a project of Next Generation, was instrumental in passing both the original Paid Family Leave legislation and its expansion last year.

The low rates of awareness among low-income and Hispanic workers have health and economic implications for California. Paid family leave has been shown to reduce rates of turnover and absenteeism, and improve bonding time with newborns and adopted children. Additionally, paid family leave helps ensure that women—especially single mothers—can stay in the workforce even if they have to care for a family member or child.

Additional highlights from the poll include:

  • Awareness has dropped among all income groups, except those making more than $100,000. Similarly, awareness dropped among all education groups, though the biggest decline in awareness was among those with the least education. 29% of this group was aware of the program in 2011; 19% were aware in 2014.
  • Among those aware of California’s paid family leave program, 79% understand that paid family leave can be used to care for seriously ill family members as well as newborns and adopted or foster children. However, only about half as many (39%) are aware that the program’s benefits were extended in 2014 to include sick siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law.
  • More than three-quarters (77%) of those who are aware of the program say they would take advantage of the program if they needed it. Women, non-white voters, those under the age of 50 and parents are among those most likely to use the program when they know about it.

Nearly every private-sector worker in California contributes a portion of their salary to the State Disability Insurance (SDI) system that disburses benefits, but only a fraction ever make claims. Since being implemented, the Paid Family leave program has helped more than 1.7 million working Californians take up to six weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child or care for an ailing parent, spouse or child. In July 2014, the law was expanded to include care for additional family members—siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law.

The total number of claims have increased over the years, and the Employment Development Department, which administers the Paid Family Leave program, is in the first year of a three-year effort to raise awareness about the program. To complement those efforts, the California Work & Family Coalition is launching a new statewide social media campaign to raise awareness about paid family leave benefits among Hispanics and low-income workers. The campaign #HowICare will launch at the Women’s Policy Summit today, and will encourage Californians across the state to use social and community networks to increase awareness of the state’s paid leave program.

The Field Poll survey was conducted among a random sample of 1,010 registered voters in California in late October 2014 on behalf of the California Center for Research on Women and Families, an independent, non-profit research and policy organization, and the California Work & Family Coalition.



About California Work & Family Coalition

The California Work & Family Coalition, a project of Next Generation, is an alliance of community organizations, unions and non-profits protecting every California worker’s right to put their family first. We work together to promote work family policies that help parents, caregivers, children and families thrive.

Learn more at and on Twitter @WorkFamilyCA.

About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans: The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at, and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.