Whether it's for medical or family reasons, an overwhelming percentage of Americans support the idea of paid leave, but the question of whether leave should be mandated by the government or left up to employers to decide is not as definite.

This is according to a new study by Pew Research Center, conducted late last year, that found 85 percent of respondents agreed workers should get paid leave to deal with serious health issues, and 82 percent believed new mothers should get paid maternity leave.

A smaller majority, 69 percent, said they support paid paternity leave, and 67 percent said they support paid leave to care for family members with serious illnesses.

Where there's much less consensus, however, is on whether there should be a federal mandate that employers provide paid leave, Bizwomen.com reported. Fifty-one percent of Pew's respondents said the federal government should require paid leave, versus 48 percent who said the federal government should not.

Politically, Republicans tended to be less supportive of paid leave, and Republican men less supportive than Republican women. Democrats (69 percent) largely support a federal mandate, whereas a majority of Republicans (67 percent) said the decision should be up to an employer.

However, the study found majorities across partisan lines saying they believe paid leave would help men, women and families.

See full study results online