Paid family leave: supporting work attachment among lower income mothers. By: Winston, Pamela; Coombs, Elizabeth; Bennett, Rashaun; Antelo, Lauren; Landers, Patrick; Abbott, Marissa. Community, Work & Family. Oct2019, Vol. 22 Issue 4, p478-511. 34p.

Around the time of childbirth, low-income families are at particular economic risk for reasons including mothers’ relatively high levels of separation from work. Lower wage jobs typically come with minimal paid leave that can be used at childbirth. Paid Family Leave (PFL) programs provide partially subsidized wages to new parents. Quantitative research links PFL with greater post-birth work attachment among mothers, including lower wage mothers. This qualitative study sought to explore factors that facilitate – and inhibit – lower income mothers’ returns to work following childbirth and the role of PFL programs. Seventy-one percent of the 75 mothers in the study returned to work. They cited their need for income, desire for financial independence, preference for combining work and caregiving, supportive workplace practices, family help, and accessible and trustworthy child care. They described ways PFL supported employment, especially for single mothers and those with the fewest family resources. Twenty-nine percent of the mothers left work after childbirth for reasons including child care costs, a desire (or need) to remain home rather than work, low job quality, lack of job protection, and PFL program limitations. The findings suggest future research directions and pathways for service providers and others to support these families.