December 30, 1998
Roughly two-thirds of employees in the private sector and State and local governments could receive unpaid family leave, recent data reveal.
In 1994, unpaid family leave was almost universally available (93 percent) for full-time employees of State and local governments, while medium and large employers reported in 1995 that 84 percent of full-timers were eligible for unpaid family leave. In 1996, unpaid family leave was available to 48 percent of full-time employees in small private establishments.
Small employers provided an average of slightly more than 12 weeks of unpaid family leave per year. This compared to about 14 weeks per year for medium and large employers, and almost 28 weeks per year for State and local governments.
The availability of unpaid family leave was affected by the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. This federal law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a variety of conditions. Other State laws with more generous coverage or fewer restrictions also affect the incidence of unpaid family leave.
Data on unpaid family leave and other employee benefits are available from the BLS Employee Benefits Survey. Small employers are defined as those with fewer than 100 employees. Medium and large employers are those with 100 or more employees. For additional information, see "Unpaid Family Leave" (PDF 21K), Compensation and Working Conditions, Winter 1998.