Family Leave

"Session Snapshot" on Family Leave 

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Paid Family Leave

Paid Family Leave (PFL) has been enacted into law in six states, in addition to Washington, D.C. The legislation allows for four (4) to twelve (12) weeks paid family leave depending on the state. Additionally, PFL in most states offer to pay the employee up to 50% of his or her average weekly wages, although some states offer higher compensation. For example, New York’s compensation increases incrementally until 2020 when the legislation is fully enacted. Washington state also offers up to 90% of weekly wages to employees on PFL.

All states that have enacted PFL allow workers to take time off for bonding with a new child and taking care of a family member with a serious illness. Other states have expanded this to include taking time off for a personal injury or illness, in addition to taking time off to care for family of a servicemember deployed on active duty.

Family Medical Leave Act

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been expanded in 17 states, in addition to Washington, D.C. FMLA was enacted into law in 1993 by President Clinton. Employees are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, unless otherwise noted by state law. Employees may take FMLA to care for a new child, to care for a newly placed child for adoption or foster care, to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or to take medical leave due to personal health condition.

As many as 17 states have expanded the benefits of FMLA. Many states have expanded the amount of time an employee can take off for FMLA, such as 16 weeks of leave in a 24 month period—which has been adopted by a number of states. Additionally, many states have expanded which employees are eligible for FMLA by changing the minimum number of employees to make FMLA more accessible to those at smaller businesses. Most states that have expanded FMLA have broadened the definition of family to include domestic partnerships and civil unions. The Department of Labor amended FMLA in 2015 to expand the definition of “spouse” to include same-sex couples.

There are several federal initiatives currently in the work to update FMLA.  The FAMILY Act is working to give workers 66% of their normal wages during paid leave and has bipartisan support. Additionally, the Trump Administration has seriously looked into expanding FMLA to include six weeks of PFL.

States with Paid Family Leave: CA, DC, MA, NJ, NY, RI, WA

States with Expanded Family Medical Leave Act: CA, CO, CT, DC, HI, KY, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NY, OR, RI, TN, VT, WA, WI


  • Forbes: Paid Family Leave Can Make It Through Congress This Year, Predicts Key GOP Senator, July 12, 2018
  • The Heritage Foundation: Paid Family Leave: Avoiding a New National Entitlement, July 20, 2017
  • AEI-Brookings: Paid Family and Medical Leave: An Issue Whose Time Has Come, June 6, 2017
  • New York Times: Why Don’t We Just Do Paid Family Leave the Right Way?, February 16, 2018