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Family and Medical Leave Trends in the US
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for eligible employees for certain family and serious medical reasons. The FMLA allows states to set standards that are more expansive than federal law and many states have chosen to do so. The states are free to enact leave benefits that are more generous than those provided by the FMLA. State leave statutes may apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees or different eligibility requirements for employees seeking protected leave. State statutes may also require that the employer provide paid leave in cases where the FMLA does not.
Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) is paid time away from work for certain family and medical requirements that require a longer-term period of absence than what the employer’s regular sick-days policies offer. PFML typically operates as an insurance program, in which employees and/or employers pay in and employees who need to provide caregiving are able to draw on the policy’s benefits that provide partial wage replacement while an employee is on leave. The leave pay structure under the State paid family and medical time off programs varies from State to State and is either funded by the employee/employer or both. It has two basic components:
- Paid family leave allows employees to take time off in order to care for ill family members or a new child. It’s also known as “family caregiver leave” and “family leave insurance.”
- Paid medical leave is for taking time off for one’s own serious illness or injury. It’s also known as “temporary disability insurance” and “short-term disability.
10 states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia currently offer paid family and medical leave. State family and medical leave programs are funded through employee-paid payroll taxes, and some are also partially funded by employer-paid payroll taxes. Below are further details on the States that have enacted family and medical leave legislation:
Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Name of the Leave Act – California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
- Effective Date – July 1, 2004
- Duration -The maximum amount of leave available is up to 12 weeks of CFRA leave in a 12-month period and 26 weeks of FMLA leave (where military caregiver leave applies) in a 12-month period, some or all of which may run concurrently.
- Eligibility – Private employers with 5 or more employees and employees who have worked for an employer for at least 12 months and who have worked 1250 hours of service during the 12 months prior to the leave or be employed at a worksite with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the employee’s work site are eligible for the leaves.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take paid leave to care for a seriously ill family member, for bonding with a newborn child or adopted/fostered child. CFRA leave may be taken for a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.
California’s paid family leave (PFL) program provides benefits to employees who need to take time off for any of the CFRA qualifying reasons listed above. PFL is a disability benefits program that provides eligible employees with compensation for lost wages, for up to 8 weeks in a 12-month period.
Pay – Employers are required to deduct a certain amount from employee pay to fund the PFL program, which is administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). Benefits are paid for a maximum of eight weeks. The PFL provides partial wage replacements to employees for a limited amount of time. Employees will receive 60-70% of their average weekly earnings, up to a maximum set by state law.
- Name of the Leave Act – Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI)
- Effective Date – January 1, 2024
- Duration – Employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave with an additional 4 weeks of leave for pregnancy or childbirth complications.
- Eligibility – Any employer with at least one employee in Colorado and employees who have earned at least $2,500 in wages within the state within the last 4 calendar quarters.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take leave to give birth, need to deal with a serious health condition, or care for a seriously ill family member. It also extends paid leave to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- Pay – The funds are contributed equally between the employer (50%) and employee (50%). Contributions to the program are expected to begin from January 1, 2023, with benefits payable in 2024.
- Exception – Employers who have less than 10 employees are exempt from contribution but must continue to collect and remit employee contributions.
Name of the Leave Act –
- Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CT FMLA)
- Connecticut Paid Leave Act (CT PLA)
- Effective Date – January 1, 2022
- Requirements – The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act amended the previously existing CT FMLA, and through a new law – Connecticut Paid Leave Act (CT PLA), established the CT Paid Leave Authority to provide income-replacement benefits for eligible employees who take leave under the CT FMLA.
- Duration – Effective from January 1, 2022 employees will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits in 12 months for personal and family health needs. An additional 2 weeks is available for pregnancy-related issues such as a serious health condition that results in incapacitation during pregnancy.
- Eligibility – Public and private employers with at least one employee are eligible to take the leave. An employee is required to work for 3 consecutive months before becoming eligible for the leave.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take paid family leave to care of health conditions or injury of a seriously ill family member, bond with a new child (birth, adoption, or foster care), take more time for recovery during pregnancy or after childbirth (can apply for an extra 2 weeks of leave), donate bone marrow or an organ, participate in a qualifying event due to a family member’s military deployment to a foreign country or deal with a situation related to the military deployment of a family member or for any family violence situation.
- Pay – Eligible employees may receive up to 95% of the employee’s weekly pay, capped at 60 times the state minimum wage. Connecticut’s paid family leave law is funded by an employee payroll tax of 0.5% that has been taken from most employees in the state since January 1, 2021.
On March 22, 2022, the Connecticut Department of Labor (“CT DOL”) issued its final proposed amended CT FMLA regulations, which make several amendments to previously existing regulations. The new provisions relating to the job-protected leave aspect of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Name of the Leave Act – Healthy Delaware Families Act
The Act creates a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program funded through employer and employee contributions. Contributions will begin in 2025, and covered employees will be able to access benefits in 2026.
- Duration – Employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits
- Eligibility – Employers with at least 10 employees in Delaware must contribute to the Program and provide parental leave. Employers with at least 25 employees also must provide family caregiving and medical leave. Employees who have worked more than or equal to 12 months and also have worked more than or equal to 1,250 hours of work in the last 12 months are eligible to leave. To qualify for the benefits the law uses standards in the FMLA wherein an employee must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months and performed 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the previous 12-month period.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, 6 weeks of paid family caregiver leave, or 6 weeks of paid medical leave in a year. Employees are limited overall to 12 weeks of benefits in a single year and 6 weeks of medical and/or family caregiving leave in any 24-month period. Employees are further limited to using medical and/or family caregiving leave once in a 24-month period. If two parents employed by the same employer are entitled to parental or family caregiver leave, the employer may limit the aggregate number of weeks of leave to which both may be entitled to 12 weeks during any 12-month period.
- Pay – Beginning July 1, 2022, employers participating in the state plan must remit employer and employee contributions to the state. The state shall decide the contribution rates by employer and employee.
District of Columbia
- Name of the Leave Act – Universal Paid Leave Act (UPLA) & Amendment to the UPLA and the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (D.C. FMLA)
- Effective Date – On October 1, 2021, D.C. City Council expanded the local Paid Family Leave law and the D.C. FMLA temporarily, subject to congressional review. Currently, the new law expands the number of weeks of paid leave available to eligible employees.
- Reason for Leave – Between October 1, 2021, and October 1, 2022, the employee is entitled up to:
- 2 weeks to care for pregnancy
- 8 weeks to bond with a new child
- 6 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition
- 6 weeks to care for your own serious health condition.
In addition to the above, miscarriage (pregnancy loss before 20 weeks) and stillbirth (pregnancy loss at 20 weeks or later) are qualifying reasons for medical leave.
Eligibility – An employee is eligible for leave if the individual has been employed by the same employer for at least 12 consecutive or non-consecutive months in the 7 years immediately preceding the date on which the leave will begin.
Pay – Employees who earn up to $46,800/year are eligible to have 90% of their wages replaced while on leave. The exact amount of the benefits will be based on the total average wages from all the DC employers whose employees have worked for over the past 15 months.
- Name of the Leave Act – Family and Medical Leave Program under the Time to Care Act of 2022
- Effective Date – January 1, 2025
- Duration – An employee is entitled to receive not more than 12 weeks of benefits in an application year (i.e., the 12-month period beginning on the first day of the week in which an employee applies for benefits). However, an employee may receive an additional 12 weeks of benefits if the individual qualifies for both parental leave (i.e., bonding with a new child as described below) and medical leave due to their own serious health condition in the same application year. Leave benefits will be available on a continuous or intermittent basis; however, an employee may not take intermittent leave in an increment of fewer than 4 hours.
- Eligibility – Employees who have worked at least 680 hours over the 12-month period immediately preceding the date on which the leave is covered.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take leave to care for a new-born child or a child newly placed for adoption, foster care, or kinship care, care for a family member with a serious health condition, deal with a serious health condition that prevents them from performing the functions of their position, care for a military service member with a serious health condition resulting from military service, deal with a family member being on active duty
- Pay – A family and medical leave fund will be created which provides temporary paid leave benefits to covered employees. The program will be administered by the state, and paid leave benefits will be made directly by the state to eligible individuals from the Fund.
Beginning October 1, 2023, for every employer with 15 or more employees that employs at least one individual in Maryland, every employee (through payroll deductions), will be required to contribute to the Fund. The rates of contribution will be set by the state.
- Name of the Leave Act – Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave
- Effective Date – January 1, 2021
- Duration – Employee is entitled to up to 26 weeks of combined family and medical leave benefit per year.
- Eligibility – Employers who have more than 25 employees are required to provide paid family and medical leave benefits to employees. Employees who are W-2 Workers in Massachusetts (Full, Part-Time or Seasonal Employees) are eligible for the leaves
- Reason for Leave – The Act provides employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave, up to 20 weeks of job-protected paid medical leave, or up to 26 weeks of combined family and medical leave in a benefit year. Effective July 1, 2021, covered employees may take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for family members who have serious health conditions.
- Pay – Benefits payment is based on the employee’s individual average weekly wage, the state average weekly wage, and the type of leave the employee is availing.
- Name of the Leave Act – Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Effective Date – July 1, 2020
Two programs make up a paid family and medical leave — NJ Family Leave Insurance & Temporary Disability Insurance
Family Leave Insurance (FLI)
- Duration – FLI provides employees with 12 continuous weeks (over a 12-month period) or 56 intermittent days of paid leave.
- Reasons for Leave – Paid leave is available for employees to take time off work to bond with a new child (birth, foster, or adopted), to care for a seriously ill loved one, and to deal with issues related to domestic or sexual violence.
- Eligibility – Any employee working in New Jersey that meets one of the two following requirements: Worked at least 20 weeks during the 52 weeks leading up to the claim, making at least $220 per week, or; Earned at least $11,000 during the 52 weeks leading up to the claim.
Whereas Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) is paid leave for one’s own non-work-related injury, illness, or other disability, including pregnancy and recovery from delivery.
- Name of the Leave Act – New York State’s Paid Family Leave (PFL)
- Effective Date – January 1, 2018
- Duration – Employees are entitled to 12 weeks of family leave.
- Eligibility – Employees who work 26 consecutive weeks (working 20 or more hours per week) or 175 days in a year (working less than 20 hours per week) are eligible for the leave.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take paid leave to bond with a newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed foster child, for taking care of relatives with serious health issues, to assist when a family member is deployed abroad on active military duty and for siblings (starting on January 1, 2023).
- Pay – Employees may be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave at 67 percent of their pay, up to a cap.
- Name of the Leave Act – Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
- Effective Date – September 1, 2023
- Requirements: Family leave is currently protected under the Oregon Family Leave Act if an employee works for an employer with 25 or more employees. Currently, employees can use vacation, sick leave, or other paid leave that may be available to them. As of January 1, 2023, contributions will begin to be made into Oregon’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, with benefits becoming payable the following September.
- Duration – Employee shall be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leaves
- Eligibility – Employers who have employed at least one employee for at least 20 weeks in a year or in the year immediately preceding the year of coverage, or who have paid wages of at least $1,500 in any 3-month quarter in the preceding year.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take leave to give birth, need to deal with a serious health condition, care for a seriously ill family member, or need to take safe leave due to domestic violence.
- Pay – The funds are contributed between the Employer and employee and the contribution rate is decided annually.
Name of the Leave Act
- Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act
- Temporary Caregiver Insurance ( July 1, 2013)
- Effective Date – July 1, 2018
- Duration – Employee is entitled to 13 consecutive weeks of leave (either fully or partly paid) in a period of 24 month
- Eligibility – Employees who have worked at least 12 consecutive months and at least an average of 30 hours weekly are eligible for the leaves.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take leaves to bond with a child (birth, adoption, or foster care placement), care for a seriously ill family member, employees can use the leave to care for their own illness or injury.
- Pay – During any period of parental or family leave the employer shall maintain any existing health benefits of the employee (including group life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, sick leave, annual leave, educational benefits, and pensions except benefits that are provided by practice or written policy of an employer).
Temporary Caregiver Insurance
The Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program (TCI) is Rhode Island’s paid family leave program which gives 4 weeks of paid leave benefits for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a new child or to care for a family member with a serious health condition; and up to 30 weeks of paid leave for a worker’s own disability.
- Name of the Leave Act – Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave
- Effective Date – January 1, 2020
- Duration – Employee is entitled to a maximum combined amount of leave of up to 16 weeks per year, in accordance with the following limits and reasons for leave:
- Up to 12 weeks of family leave for a family member’s serious health condition; baby bonding, or qualifying exigency relating to a family member’s military service
- Up to 12 weeks of medical leave due to the employee’s own serious health condition.
- Up to 16 weeks of combined family and medical leave, medical leave for pregnancy or to recover from giving birth, and afterward family leave to bond with the baby. Employees could qualify for family leave to care for a family member, then medical leave for their own serious illness within the same year.
- Up to 18 weeks of combined medical and family leave if the employee has a pregnancy-related serious health condition resulting in incapacity.
- Eligibility – Employees who have worked a minimum of 820 hours during the previous year are entitled to leave.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take paid leave to bond with a new child (baby, adoption, foster care placement), deal with a serious illness or injury, care for a seriously ill family member, spend time with a family member who is about to be deployed overseas or is returning from overseas deployment. This leave can also be used for bereavement purposes during the 7 calendar days after the death of a qualifying family member.
- Pay – The leaves are funded through premiums paid by both employees and employers. The weekly benefit amount may be up to 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage up to a maximum cap as decided annually.
Unpaid Family and Medical Leave
- Name of the Leave Act – Hawaii Family Leave Law
- Effective Date – July 1, 2003
- Duration – Employees are entitled to up to 4 weeks of unpaid leave.
- Eligibility – Private employers with 100 or more employees who have worked for 6 consecutive months are eligible for the leave.
- Reason for Leave – Employees can take leave for birth or adoption of a child, and to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- Name of the Leave Act – Maine Family and Medical Leave
- Effective Date – January 1, 2007
- Duration – Employees are entitled to up to 10 work weeks of unpaid leave in any 2 years period.
- Eligibility – Employers with 15 or more employees and employees must have worked for the same employer for 12 months in a row before taking this leave.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take leave to care for the birth or adoption of a child, the employee’s own serious health condition, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, organ donation, the death or serious health condition of a family member while on active duty, or take safe leave for domestic violence.
- Name of the Leave Act – New Hampshire Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan
- Effective Date – January 1, 2023
The State Family and Medical leave provision shall provide a voluntary opt-in facility for employers. The Granite State Family Leave Plan was established to provide family leave benefits for eligible state employees. However, private employers and other public employers who do not offer these benefits may voluntarily opt in. Employers with more than 50 employees who choose to sponsor coverage for their employees through the Granite State plan must contract directly with the benefits vendor chosen by the state.
- Name of the Leave Act – Wisconsin’s Family Medical Leave Act (WFMLA)
- Effective Date – April 26, 1988
- Duration– Employee during a 12-month period is entitled to unpaid leaves:
- up to 6 weeks for birth or adoption
- up to 2 weeks for serious health conditions of a parent, child, or spouse.
- up to 2 weeks for employees with serious health conditions.
- Duration– Employee during a 12-month period is entitled to unpaid leaves:
- Eligibility – Employees whose employers have at least 50 or more employees, and employees must have worked for 52 weeks and must have worked at least 1,000 hours during that time shall be entitled to the leave.
- Reasons for Leave – Employees can take unpaid leave to care for seriously ill family members, for bonding with a newborn child or adopted/fostered child, or to care for a military service member with a serious health condition resulting from military service.
Concurrence between Federal and State Law
If an employee has an event that qualifies for leave under both FMLA and Paid Family Leave, and the employer is covered under both laws, the employer can require them to run concurrently. In order for the two types of leaves to run together, the employer must notify the employee that the leave qualifies for both FMLA and Paid Family Leave, and that it will be designated as such. For example, attending to the serious health condition of family members whose family relationships may not be covered under FMLA would thus not count against an employee’s 12-week allotment under FMLA, even if the leave was approved under a state paid family leave law and the employee gets the entitlement to the leave under the state law.
Many advanced-economy countries entitle workers to some form of compensated family and medical leave. The United States is the only Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member country to not provide paid leave to new mothers employed in the private sector. Medical leave policies also vary across OECD countries, with most providing for at least six months of leave with some pay. According to an analysis by the World Policy Analysis Centre, South Korea, and the United States are the only OECD member countries that do not provide paid medical leave to employees. PFL programs are a step in the right direction for the US.
Currently, there are only a few states in the US that provide paid family and medical leave. Several states like Maryland and Delaware have adopted paid family and medical leave legislation, though already enacted the entitlement shall be available to employees only in the coming years. Hopefully, we will see several other States joining the trend in the near future.