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Will Paid Family Leave Be Available in More States?

A family is sitting on a couch with a baby.

Although federal law and many state laws provide job-protected family leave for eligible workers, only a few states pay workers who need to take time off for baby bonding or to care for a covered relative with serious health condition.

California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington state and Washington, D.C., have paid family leave programs, but they offer different amounts of leave time and wage replacement. For example, workers in California can receive about 60 percent to 70 percent of their wages for up to six weeks in a 12-month period, and the maximum weekly benefit is $1,252. Rhode Island pays about 60 percent of wages for up to four weeks and has a weekly maximum payout of $795.

More states are considering bills that would provide employees with paid parental leave and paid leave to care for relatives with serious health conditions. We've rounded up the latest news on these proposals. Here are SHRM Online resources and news articles from other trusted media outlets.

Multiple Proposals in New Hampshire and Vermont

New Hampshire's and Vermont's Republican governors proposed a joint paid-family-leave program between the two states that employers could opt into. Private insurers would manage the plan, and employers would pay premiums. The governors hope to negotiate with their state employee unions to add the insurance to their collective bargaining agreements and guarantee an initial 18,500 users to attract the insurers and low premiums. The program would provide up to six weeks of leave for baby bonding or to care for a close relative with a serious health condition. Some Democratic leaders in each state have said that they want to offer more leave in a mandatory program. For example, New Hampshire lawmakers have proposed legislation that would require private employers to participate and would provide 12 weeks of leave and replace up to 85 percent of wages.

(Concord Monitor)

Nebraska Bill Would Provide Up to 12 Weeks

A proposal in Nebraska would provide workers with six weeks of leave to care for a family member's serious health condition and 12 weeks to care for their own condition or for baby bonding. The maximum benefit would be $564 a week, depending on the worker's average earnings.


Will New Parents in California Get 6 Months of Paid Leave?

California workers are already eligible for up to six weeks of partial wage replacement when they take time off to care for a seriously ill relative or to bond with a newborn or recently adopted child. Some California lawmakers want to expand paid-parental-leave benefits to cover up to six months of baby-bonding time, which could be split between the parents. Lawmakers who support the legislation are still working out how the state would pay for such benefits.

(CBS Sacramento)

Poll Shows Americans Want Paid Leave

Eighty-two percent of Americans who responded to a 2016 Pew Research Center poll said they think new mothers should have access to paid leave and 69 percent said new fathers should have the same. Most respondents who favored such benefits said that employers, rather than the government, should pay for the programs. However, most paid-family-leave benefits are administered through state disability insurance programs.

(Pew Research Center)

[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Develop and Administer Paid Leave Programs]

Businesses Offer Paid Leave to Attract Workers

Many employers are enhancing their benefits so they can recruit and retain top talent in a tight labor market. And paid-parental-leave offerings have increased significantly from 2016, according to the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM's) 2018 Employee Benefits survey. Paid maternity leave—which includes coverage by family or parental leave policies but excludes leave covered by short-term disability or state law—rose to 35 percent of organizations (up from 30 percent in 2017). Paid paternity leave rose to 29 percent of organizations (up from 24 percent in 2017).

(SHRM Online)


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