As state legislative sessions draw to a close, we’re thrilled to report another huge win. This weekend, Oregon passed a robust and inclusive paid family & medical leave law—the nation’s ninth. The law will provide up to 12 weeks of income to those who need to take time off work to recover from a serious health condition, care for a seriously ill loved one, or welcome a new child, with an additional two weeks of leave available for pregnancy-related complications. Oregon’s program will also cover certain “safe time” purposes related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking. The law applies to all employees, providing job protection for all leave-takers and 100% wage replacement for the lowest-wage workers; self-employed individuals and tribal governments will be able to opt in to the program. The law also joins Connecticut and New Jersey in following our model for an inclusive family definition in paid family leave laws, so workers can use the time to care for any of their loved ones, regardless of legal or biological ties. We’re so proud to have worked closely with Family Forward Oregon and the entire Oregon coalition for years as they worked to pass this extremely strong bill.
It is especially fitting to share this exciting news with you today! July 1st is Implementation Day—a day for celebrating paid leave and paid sick time victories across the nation and taking stock of the work that remains. Across the country, workers, advocates, and legislators have worked together to pass nearly 60 paid leave & paid sick time laws, and 13 of those laws have implementation anniversaries on July 1st (with New Jersey’s expanded paid leave program taking effect today).
Implementation Day reflects the incredible progress on paid leave that we’ve seen since A Better Balance’s founding. In the past fifteen years, eight states and Washington D.C. have now passed paid family & medical leave laws. And 11 states and Washington D.C., as well as nearly two dozen cities, now require paid sick time for workers; two more states have laws requiring employers to provide paid time off for a variety of purposes. The FAMILY Act, which was reintroduced this session, would pick up where the FMLA left off by creating a federal insurance program—funded by joint contributions from workers and employers—to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member. And the Healthy Families Act would guarantee workers the right to earn seven paid sick days a year to address their own health needs or to care for a sick family member.
Paid family leave and paid sick time should be legal rights for all workers, nationwide. Until it is, we’ll continue to work to make this a reality and help more states follow in Oregon’s footsteps, so that no workers are ever forced to choose between their job and caring for themselves and their family.