Paid Family Leave

Wage rates are one of the most important aspects of job quality, and jobs with low wages also tend to lack other important benefits such as health insurance, paid sick leave and paid vacation. It is increasingly possible in the United States to work full-time and still earn an income that does not pay enough to lift a family out of poverty. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job-protection for employees that take leave for personal or family illness, family medical leave, adoption or foster care; however, it does not require that employers pay their employees during their leave. In addition, the FMLA only covers some workers; not all.

To enable workers to address family or health issues without jeopardizing their earnings or job security, states can adopt paid leave policies, including paid medical, family and sick leave. Paid leave is the best policy alternative. However, states can take incremental steps to improve leave policies by: (1) expanding the FMLA to apply to employers with fewer than 50 workers, (2) covering employees who have less tenure or have worked fewer than 1,250 annual hours, and (3) including domestic partners, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren in the definition of “family.”

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