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GAO discussed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce cost estimate of the proposed Parental and Medical Leave Act of 1987, which would provide job protection while permitting employees 18 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new or seriously ill child and 26 weeks of unpaid leave due to their own serious illness. GAO found the Chamber's cost estimate of $23.8 billion is high because it uses unrealistic assumptions about the: (1) number of people who would use unpaid leave and the length of their unpaid absences; (2) number of leave users who would be temporarily replaced; and (3) cost of hiring these replacements. GAO also found that the Chamber made no offsetting adjustments for: (1) some likely benefits, such as improved employee morale and reduced employee turnover; and (2) the fact the employeers may, to some extent, defray their costs by reducing other benefits.

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