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Paid Family Leave: States With Laws to Help Parents, Other Caregivers

Fewer than a dozen states have provisions for workers to receive paid time off for caregiving

Adult daughter massaging her mother's neck while sitting on sofa

miodrag ignjatovic/Getty Images

En español | While the federal government does not require private employers to offer paid family leave, some states have enacted legislation to create mandatory family-leave insurance programs to provide parents and other caregivers with paid time off.

About 48 million people in the United States, a majority of them with full-time or part-time jobs, provide unpaid care to older or disabled adults, devoting nearly 24 hours a week to caregiving on average, according to the 2020 Caregiving in the U.S. study from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. Numbers like that have pushed state and federal lawmakers to take a new look at providing paid leave for caregiving and other family responsibilities..

Less than a quarter of U.S. workers had access to employer-provided paid family leave in 2021, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

AARP has advocated for a national policy on paid family and medical leave. “Anyone can end up needing to care for someone,” Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer for AARP, wrote in a September 2021 blog post. “We need to empower everyone to take care of their loved ones without losing pay.”

President Biden's proposed American Familes Plan would establish such a program nationwide, but as of October 2021, only six states and the District of Columbia had government-sponsored family-leave insurance programs in effect. Three other states have enacted similar measures that have not yet taken effect. Payroll taxes for workers in the state cover the cost of this insurance with contributions from the employee, the employer or both.

Here are the states that offer or have committed to offering paid family leave.

California

Effective date: In effect.

Maximum benefit: $1,357 a week

How it works: California was the first to enact paid family leave, launching its program in 2005. Employees can receive 60 percent to 70 percent of their weekly earnings, up to the maximum benefit, for up to eight weeks within any 12-month period.
 

Colorado

Effective date: Benefits begin Jan. 1, 2024; employer and employee contributions to finance the program begin Jan. 1, 2023.​

Maximum benefit: $1,100 a week in 2024, 90 percent of the state’s average weekly wage thereafter​.

How it works: Colorado voters approved a paid family and medical leave program in a 2020 ballot measure, Proposition 118. Employees will be able to take up to 12 weeks to care for a seriously ill family member. The benefit calculation is 90 percent of a worker’s pay up to half the state average weekly wage, and 50 percent of any earnings beyond that.
 

Connecticut

Effective date: Benefits begin Jan. 1, 2022; employees can begin submitting applications Dec. 1, 2021, for leave occurring after Jan. 1.

Maximum benefit: $780 a week from January through June in 2022, rising to $840 on July 1, 2022, and $900 a week beginning June 1, 2023.

How it works: Most workers will be eligible for up to 12 weeks off to care for a seriously ill family member. Employees who make up to 40 times the state minimum wage of $13 an hour — that is, those making up to $520 a week — will receive up to 95 percent of their pay during family leave. A different calculation will be used for those who earn more than that, with benefits capped at 60 times the minimum wage, or $780 a week.
 

District of Columbia

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $1,000 a week

How it works: Employees receive up to six weeks’ pay to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Massachusetts

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $850 a week

How it works: Employees can get paid leave for up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or 26 weeks for a loved one who serves in the military. Benefit payments are 80 percent of weekly earnings up to half of the state’s weekly average wage — in 2021, that’s about $744 — and 50 percent of any earnings above that.
 

New Jersey

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $903 a week in 2021

How it works: Workers can receive 85 percent of their average weekly earnings, up to the maximum, for up 12 consecutive weeks or 56 days of intermittent caregiving in a 12-month period.
 

New York

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $971.61 a week in 2021, $1,068.36 in 2022

How it works: Employees can receive 67 percent of their average weekly earnings, up to the maximum, for up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
 

Oregon

Effective date: Benefits begin Sept. 1, 2023; employers and employees begin paying into the system Jan. 1, 2023.

Maximum benefit: 100 percent of average weekly wage

How it works: Workers who have been with a company for at least 180 days will be able take up to 12 weeks a year to care for a spouse, parent, parent-in-law or child with a serious health condition. Companies with fewer than 25 employees are not required to provide paid family leave, but they may be eligible for state grants if they opt to do so.
 

Rhode Island

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $978 a week

How it works:  Employees receive about 60 percent of weekly earnings for up to four weeks to care for a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law or grandparent with a serious health condition. The minimum weekly benefit is $107.
 

Washington

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $1,206 a week

How it works: Workers can receive up to 90 percent of their weekly pay, up to the maximum, for up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Keep in mind

• Some states require employees to give advance notice, typically 30 days, before taking paid family leave, although there may be exceptions for unforeseeable circumstances. Check with your human resources department about notice policies.

• Taxes often are not deducted from the amount you receive for paid family leave, and the income is taxable.

Editor's note: This article, originally published Sept. 25, 2019, has been updated to reflect new information on state policies. An earlier version listed Maine with a paid family leave program. Instead, Maine has a leave law guaranteeing workers a minimum amount of paid time off for general purposes but does not require employers to provide paid family leave.

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