BATON ROUGE – Most Louisiana workers do not have access to paid leave benefits that support them when they get sick, when they need to take time to care for an ailing family member or when they need time to bond with a new baby.

But with modest contributions from workers and their employers, Louisiana can ensure that more than 80 percent of workers are covered by a paid leave policy that lets them take up to 12 weeks off to care for themselves or a family member. The weekly cost for most workers would be less than the price of a cappuccino.

A new policy brief by the Louisiana Budget Project shows how a paid leave program could work in Louisiana, and provide much-needed economic security for families across the state.

“Fifty cents for every $100 in wages, shared equally between an employer and an employee is all it would take,” said Stacey Roussel, LBP’s senior policy analyst, who authored the brief. “This modest contribution would prevent workers from facing a terrible choice between keeping food on the table and caring for themselves or their family when an unexpected illness occurs.”

The proposal is structured to ensure the benefit works for families of all income levels. It does this by replacing a progressively higher share of wages for lower wage workers who can least afford to take time off from work.

“It is important to ensure that paid leave is a meaningful option for workers at all income levels, and that is what this model provides.” Roussel said.