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Paid Family & Medical Leave

When a new child arrives or serious illness strikes, you often need time off from work. But for many Americans, it’s not that simple.

That’s because the United States is one of the only countries on the planet that does not guarantee paid family and medical leave. Far too many Americans are forced to sacrifice their savings, or lose their jobs altogether, when they need time to care for themselves or their families.

We are advancing paid leave laws at the federal and state levels around the country so that all workers can savor the joys and weather the inevitable crises that life delivers without worrying about how to pay the bills. We will not rest until all America’s workers have access to paid family and medical leave.

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Paving the Way for National Paid Leave for All

No one should have to sacrifice their economic security in order to welcome a new child, care for a sick loved one, or recover one’s own health. As a longtime leader in designing and advocating for comprehensive federal paid family and medical leave policies introduced in Congress like The FAMILY Act and as co-founders and  leading members of the Paid Leave For All campaign, we are at the forefront of a growing movement to pass a national paid leave program that will protect workers’ jobs and economic security and affirm the value of care in our society.

In 2020, with our help, Congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which extended paid leave for the first time in our nation’s history to many workers with caregiving needs amidst the COVID-19 crisis. And in 2021, President Biden proposed the American Families Plan, incorporating key elements of our model for an inclusive paid leave program and marking the first time a president has put out a comprehensive proposal for a paid family and medical leave program.

Every day, we continue our push for a strong, inclusive, national paid leave law. 

Take action: Tell Congress to Pass Paid Leave Without Delay

Learn more about the national paid leave effort: 

 

Passing Paid Family and Medical Leave in the States

Momentum for paid family and medical leave at the state level continues to build. With our help, nine states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington State—and Washington D.C. have passed into law programs that provide pay to workers taking time off to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, or recover from one’s own serious health condition.  We have been proud to work closely with coalitions on the ground in these states to draft, win, and implement these laws around the country. 

As we see firsthand everyday through our free legal helpline, these laws provide  an essential lifeline to millions of workers and families across the country. We continue to work with legislators and partners on the ground across the country as more and more states seek to enact their own paid family and medical leave programs.

Learn more

Expanding & Enforcing The Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a national law that entitles eligible workers to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child, care for a parent, child, or spouse with a serious health condition or their own serious health condition, and address certain military family needs. The law has helped millions of working Americans balance the demands of work, health, and family, by protecting their jobs while they take time off to recover from illness or care for loved ones. 

For those covered by it, the FMLA offers critical protections, yet too many workers are left out by the law; even for those who are covered, the FMLA offers only unpaid leave, making FMLA leave out of reach for those who cannot afford to go without pay. We are committed to building on the foundation of the FMLA to ensure all workers have the paid, job-protected leave they need, while at the same time fighting each day to ensure workers know about and can use their rights under the existing law. 

Learn more: 

Click here for more resources and fact sheets on the FMLA

25%

Percentage of US mothers who return to work within less than 2 weeks of giving birth

3

Number of countries that do not guarantee paid maternity leave (the United States, Suriname and Papua New Guinea)

13%

Percentage of private sector workers in the US who have access to paid family leave in the event of a new child or a family health emergency

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