Stephanie Haber
/ Categories: Various

States With Paid Family Leave

August 22, 2017

pfl mom

Paid Family Leave (PFL) is coming to New York in four short months. Effective January 1, 2018, full-time employees at privately-held companies in New York will be able to take partially-paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a seriously-ill family member, or support a family member in the Armed Forces. In the first year (2018) of PFL, eligible employees may take up to eight weeks of leave time at up to 50% of their average weekly wage.

New York is not the first state to adopt such legislation, so we’ve taken a look at the other states blazing the trail on paid time off and the impact it has on families, businesses, and communities.

The Positive Impact of Paid Leave

Welcoming a new addition to the family is hard work, as is caring for those in our families who need assistance. From children to parents to siblings and step-parents, it can take time out of our days and create mental and physical work. However, it is extremely important work that has a lasting impact on our families and communities. Research has shown that kids benefit when parents have access to paid leave programs.1  We also know families are stronger and more secure when employees also have time to be caregivers.2

Studies have also found that paid leave benefits, such as New York’s recently-passed Paid Family Leave (PFL), have the potential to reduce infant mortality by a staggering 10%, while increasing the likelihood that children will be vaccinated.3 In addition to the physical health of children overall, PFL provides long-term benefits like mental

resiliency and increased ability to thrive. And for families, it provides the added peace of mind that comes with job security and partial pay when parents need time off work to be fully present with their families.  And while these types of programs can present some start up costs and hurdles for employers, when you look at the data, it’s easy to wonder why paid leave programs aren’t more common.

Balancing Work and Family: PFL Around the Country

In almost every American worker’s career there will be a point when balancing work and family needs becomes difficult to navigate. Whether that’s due to a growing a family, or caring for it in times of crisis, these events can leave families stressed and scrambling. To address the realities of working and living, there are two primary ways eligible employees can access leave time — federally and/or at the state level.

Federally, all employees working for employers with 50 or more employees are eligible to take 12 weeks of protected, unpaid time away from their jobs under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).4  Before its passage in 1993, it was not unusual for workers to lose their jobs, or face other retaliation at work if they missed more than a week of work for the birth of a child or to care for a parent or child with a serious illness.5  Women especially were routinely fired for pregnancy-related time away from work.6 FMLA still remains the framework a majority of America’s workforce uses to take time off for family-related events like childbirth or parent care.7

In addition to what is provided for by FMLA, workers may also have state-level resources which vary by state of residence.


Program Details


New York

New Jersey

Rhode Island



What can I take leave for? (qualifying events)

- Bonding with a newborn
- Caring for a sick family member

- Bonding with a newborn
- Caring for a sick family member
- Attending to family matters when a family member is called to active military service or other qualifying military event

- Bonding with a newborn
- Caring for a sick family member

- Bonding with a newborn
- Caring for a sick family member

- Bonding with a newborn
- Caring for a sick family member


How much leave can I take?

Up to 6 weeks in a 12-month period

Beginning in 2018, up to 8 weeks in a 12-month period, culminating in up to 12 weeks in a 12 month period by 2021

Up to 6 weeks in a 12-month period

Up to 4 weeks in a 12-month period

Up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period beginning in 2020


How much will I be compensated while on leave?

Up to 55% of your salary, capped at $1,129/week

Beginning in 2018, up to 50% of your average salary, culminating in up to 67% of your average salary in 2021, capped at 67% of the statewide average weekly wage

2/3 of the average income, up to a maximum of $633/week

4.62% of quarterly wages ranging between a minimum of $89/week to a max of $831

Up to 90% of earnings for low-wage workers


Do I need to meet eligibility requirements?*

Worked for 12 months and accrued 1,250 hrs during those 12 months

Worked 26 consecutive weeks in a 12 month period

Worked 20 calendar weeks OR earned at least 100 times the state minimum wage during the 52 weeks prior to leave

Must have been paid at least $11,520 in either your Base Period or an Alternate Base Period

Worked 820 consecutive job hours, or 12 work weeks, in a 12-month period


Does it apply to me? (Covered employee?)

All private-sector and some public-sector employees are covered. Those who are self-employed can elect coverage.

All private-sector employees. Public-sector employees and those who are self-employed who elect coverage.

All employees covered under the Unemployment Compensation Law, excluding government employees.

All private-sector and some public-sector employees are covered.

All private-sector and some public-sector employees are covered.


Is my job protected?

Only the protections provided under FMLA


Only the protections provided under FMLA




Is there a waiting period before I'm eligible?

Yes, 7 days/ Waived for new mothers


Yes, 7 days/ Waived for workers transitioning from disability


Yes, 7 days


*Based on full time employment



Here’s a state-by-state breakdown (in alphabetical order):

California: Paid Family Leave

There are three states (California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) that currently have paid family leave mandates in effect. California was the first to implement theirs in 2007 and it “provides up to six weeks of partial pay to employees” to bond with a new child or care for a seriously-ill family member.8

Since its introduction, California has recorded positive economic and health-related effects.9 Early research and polling also indicate that both employer and employee response has been positive. Fewer than 15% of employers reported negative or neutral feedback even though it came with, in some cases, many added resposnsibilities on the part of businesses.10  Women and men from all income and age groups, and employed in a variety of jobs, take time off with PFL, and while a majority of the claims have been related to bonding with a new child, claims for caring for sick family members are steadily increasing.11  PFL has proven so successful, it has been expanded twice since its original passage to “broaden the range of family members for whom caregiving leave can be taken, and increase benefit levels for lower-and middle-wage workers.”12

To qualify for California’s PFL, employees need to have worked for an employer for 12 months and have accrued 1,250 hours of service during the 12 months prior to taking leave.13 They are then eligibl to receive 55% of their current weekly wage, ranging from a minimum of $50 per week to $1,067 per week.14

New Jersey: Family Leave Insurance

New Jersey enacted their paid leave initiative, called Family Leave Insurance (FLI) in 2009, with similar guidelines to California’s. Eligible employees need to have worked 20 calendar weeks or earned at least 100 times the New York State hourly minimum wage during the 52 weeks prior to leave.15  Similar to California, New Jersey provides a portion of the employee’s current wage (⅔) up to a predetermined amount ($633 per week) for six weeks of leave. New Jersey does require that other forms of available leave  (like PTO) be taken before using FLI.16

A predominance of New Jersey’s FLI claims have been taken to provide care for a new baby.17   Reports indicate that a growing percentage of men are participating in FLI .18 However, the time off taken by men pursuant to FLI tends to be shorter than their female counterparts and they generally take it less often.19  Sentiments toward FLI trend positively, with 76% of employees in favor of it, and a majority of businesses reporting little or no disruption to business as usual after the initial launch.20

New York: Paid Family Leave

 New York’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program will take effect at the start of 2018.  One of the most progressive and comprehensive programs available, PFL mandated benefits are scheduled to increase annually, starting with eight weeks of leave time and 50% of the average weekly wage in 2018, and increasing to 12 weeks and 67% of the average weekly wage in 2021. New York’s PFL also extends benefits to those caring for seriously-ill family members and for spending time with family members during a qualifying military service event. 

One of the unique features of New York’s PFL is that it retroactively extends bonding benefits to parents who have welcomed a child in the preceding year (2017).  Moms or dads who already have an infant at home — born any time since January 2017— can take PFL time off beginning in January of 2018, for as many as eight weeks.21

Rhode Island: Temporary Caregiver Insurance

Rhode Island most recently implemented their version of family leave, Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI),  in 2014. Rhode Island’s requirements are slightly different than California or New Jersey’s, as “all private sector employers and public sector employers who opt into the program “must provide TCI for their employees.”

Though it can seem daunting for employers initially, as early as one year after implementation (in 2015), a majority of Rhode Island businesses were in favor of TCI. Roughly 61% reported either strongly or somewhat favorable responses about it when surveyed.22  Additionally, when asked about any burdens or negative impact to business, like updating payroll systems and arranging for temporary staffing, there was little evidence to suggest detrimental effects in the year since TCI’s implementation.23

The length of TCI leave available varies depending on the precipitating event. For example, when bonding with a new child, or caring for a family member, employees may receive up to four weeks of paid leave.24 If workers need to take time for their own own disability, they could use TCI  to take up to 30 weeks of paid leave. The monetary benefit for TCI in Rhode Island is based on employee earnings and ranges between $89 and $831 a week.25

Washington State: Paid Family Leave  

Washington State passed a paid family leave law in 2007, but the recession halted plans for its implementation, and it remained unfunded until earlier this year.26  After almost ten years in the works, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill to fund it in early July 201727 Washington State PFL will provide 12 weeks of paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child, or the serious medical condition of a worker or a worker’s family member beginning in 2020.28

The Washington State PFL also provides an additional two weeks for situations like serious pregnancy-related health conditions.29 In addition to offering one of longest lengths of leave in the nation at 12 weeks to start, the Washington State PFL will cover a comparatively higher percentage of employee salary.29  Low-wage workers can be eligible to collect as much as 90% of their salary when fully rolled out.30 Workers must have worked a minimum of 820 hours on the job to be eligible.31

We need a new closing paragraph.


2Labor Law Center;
6Rhode Island Department of Labor;
7California Employment Department;
8National Partnership for Women and Families;
14Center for Economic and Policy Research;
16National Partnership for Women and Families;
Department of Labor;
21Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training;
23The Seattle Times;
24 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
28The Seattle Times;
30 CNN;



This material is not intended to provide legal counsel.  Please consult with an appropriate professional for legal and compliance advice.

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