More private workers have access to paid family leave in 2023, but as a whole, benefits access has remained largely unchanged from last year, according to new data out Thursday.
More than a quarter of all private industry workers (27 percent) have access to paid family leave, up from 24 percent that had access to the benefit in 2022, according to the Employee Benefits in the United States Report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The report's estimates are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), conducted in March by the U.S. Department of Labor's BLS.
While paid family leave showed gains year-over-year, the majority of benefits remained unchanged from last year. For instance, wellness programs were available to 43 percent of private industry workers this year, the same percentage as 2022. Access to paid vacation remained the same from 2022 to 2023 at 79 percent, while paid sick leave ticked up slightly to 78 percent from 77 percent.
[Use SHRM's Multistate Laws Comparison Tool to track state and local paid leave laws.]
The retirement benefits landscape remained largely the same from last year as well.
Retirement benefits were available to 94 percent of private industry union workers and 68 percent of private industry nonunion workers in March 2023. Sixty-seven percent of all private industry workers had access to defined contribution plans in 2023, up from the 66 percent of those who had access in March 2022. Access to defined benefit retirement plans remained unchanged, staying at 15 percent.
Nearly all (96 percent) private industry union workers and 69 percent of private industry nonunion workers had access to medical care benefits, the BLS report found.
The annual BLS report paints a picture of where employee benefits are at in the United States, an important gauge of the marketplace. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, tight labor market and rising inflation, several employers have added and enhanced benefits in the past couple of years to help workers—as well as woo and retain them.
The gains on paid family leave are reflected in other recent data as well.
For instance, SHRM's 2023 Employee Benefits Survey, out in June, similarly found that significant strides have been made in parental leave and family leave benefits programs over the past year. Paid maternity and paternity leave each saw 5-percentage-point jumps from last year and are now offered by 40 percent and 32 percent of employers, respectively, SHRM's report found. Simultaneously, paid parental leave is now offered by roughly 4 in 10 employers (39 percent), a 6-point jump from last year, according to this year's survey. Paid adoption leave also jumped by 6 percentage points, with about a third of employers (34 percent) now offering it, and paid foster child leave is now offered by 25 percent of employers, representing a 3-percentage-point increase.
"Prior to the pandemic, a lot of benefits had been about focusing on individuals. But when COVID-19 hit, a lot of employers started to think about benefits that help not just their employees, but their loved ones as well," SHRM researcher Cal Engstrom said in June.