On October 24, 2023, diversitydatakids.org policy director Pamela Joshi was invited to testify to the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development in support of An Act Improving the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (H.1888/S.1197). Joshi spoke about the importance of expanding data collection and reporting at the Department of Family and Medical Leave, specifically the need to collect and report data on claims disaggregated by race and ethnicity, primary language, and more.
Chairwoman Jehlen, Chairman Cutler, and members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify. My name is Pamela Joshi, and I am a Senior Scientist at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. For 25 years, I have evaluated equitable access to work supportive policies, including family and medical leave, and examined whether these policies are effectively reaching underserved groups. The goal of this research is to ensure that programs like family and medical leave benefit all workers. But, we also want to make sure that workers who have the least access to paid leave through their employers, and workers who face the highest obstacles to using public programs, are able to use the paid leave benefits to which they are entitled.
So, how do we know whether eligible workers receive benefits and whether state programs are working for specific populations? Clearly, we need high quality program administrative data to answer these questions. Yet, we often lack the information needed to conduct analyses.