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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

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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 41 million family caregivers in the United States provide 34 billion hours a year of unpaid help, according to a 2019 AARP study. Numbers like that have pushed state and federal lawmakers to take a new look at compensating unpaid caregivers, who often are financially stressed.

As of March 2018, fewer than 1 in 6 workers had access to employer-provided paid family leave, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As of September 2019, four states had government-sponsored family-leave insurance programs in effect. Five other states and the District of Columbia 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.

U S paid family leave laws by state. California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have programs in effect. Connecticut, D C, Main, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington have programs starting within the next three years.

California

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $1,252 a week

How it works: Employees can receive 60 to 70 percent of their weekly earnings, up to the maximum benefit, for up to six weeks within any 12-month period. (The leave period increases to eight weeks on July 1, 2020.)

California was the first to enact paid family leave, launching its program in 2005.
 

Connecticut

Effective date: Benefits begin Jan. 1, 2022

Maximum benefit: $780 a week in 2022, rising to $900 a week in 2023

How it works: Employees will receive up to 95 percent of their pay, depending on their earnings. Almost all workers will be eligible for up to 12 weeks off to care for a seriously ill family member.

 

District of Columbia

Effective date: Benefits begin July 1, 2020

Maximum benefit: $1,000 a week

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

Maine

Effective date: Benefits begin Jan. 1, 2021

Maximum benefit: Your base salary each week

How it works: Employees earn an hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, but they cannot use the time until they have worked 120 days during a one-year period. For a full-time employee working a 40-hour week, 24 weeks — roughly five and a half months — would have to elapse before they could take paid leave. The worker would have earned three days by then. 

Employees may use this paid leave for any reason. Companies with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from providing this benefit, and workers who have a collective bargaining agreement also aren't covered.
 

Massachusetts

Effective date: Benefits for family caregiving begin July 1, 2021 (Jan. 1, 2021, if the recipient is serving in the military).

Maximum benefit: $850 a week

How it works: Employees can receive 50 to 80 percent of their weekly earnings, up to the maximum, for up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Those caring for a loved one who serves in the military may be covered for up to 26 weeks starting Jan. 1, 2021.

 

New Jersey

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $650 a week in 2019

How it works: Employees can receive 67 percent of their average weekly earnings, up to the maximum, for up to six weeks in a 12-month period to care for a family member. That increases to 12 weeks or 56 intermittent days of caregiving on July 1, 2020.
 

New York

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $746.41 a week in 2019, $840.70 in 2020

How it works: Employees can receive 55 percent (2019) to 60 percent (2020) of their average weekly earnings, up to the maximum, for up to 10 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The maximum leave period increases to 12 weeks and 67 percent in 2021.

 

Oregon

Effective date: Benefits begin Jan. 1, 2023

Maximum benefit: $1,215 a week

How it works: Employees will receive 5 to 120 percent of their average weekly wage, up to the maximum, for up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Companies with fewer than 25 employees are exempt from providing this benefit.
 

Rhode Island

Effective date: In effect

Maximum benefit: $852 a week

How it works: Employees receive about 60 percent of weekly earnings for up to four weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

 

Washington

Effective date: Benefits begin Jan. 1, 2020.

Maximum benefit: $1,000 a week

How it works: Employees will receive between $100 and $1,000 a week, depending on their weekly earnings, 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 on September 25, 2019, has been updated to reflect new data from AARP on the economic value of family caregiving.

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