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.
Calling for National Paid Leave for All Through the FAMILY Act
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 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 temporarily extended paid leave for the first time in our nation’s history to many workers with caregiving needs amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
In May 2023, Congress re-introduced The FAMILY Act, which would establish a national paid family and medical leave program, guaranteeing workers 12 weeks of paid leave to welcome a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, or attend to one’s own medical needs.
Learn more about the national paid leave effort:
- At a Glance: The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act
- The US Needs Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Key Components: The Essential Elements of a Strong Paid Family and Medical Leave Law
- The Case for Paid Medical Leave
- The Health Case for Paid Family and Medical Leave
- The Business Case for Paid Family and Medical Leave
- The Importance of an Inclusive, Realistic Family Definition in Paid Family and Medical Leave and Paid Sick Time Policies
- Military Families & The Need for Paid Leave
- Federal Emergency Paid Leave: Here’s What Happened and Here’s What You Need to Know
- Best Practices for Paid Family Leave Policies for State Government Employees
- Best Practices for Paid Family Leave Policies for Local Government Employees
- Paid Leave in Build Back Better: What You Need To Know
- Letter to Congress in Support of Paid Leave with Protection Against Job Loss, Retaliation, & Discrimination (2021)
- Testimony for “Paid Leave for Working Families: Examining Access, Options, and Impacts” (2021)
- Testimony for: “In Their Own Words: Paid Leave, Child Care, and an Economy that Failed Women” Hearing (2021)
- Testimony for “Legislative Subcommittee Hearing on Universal Paid Leave and Guaranteed Access to Child Care” (2021)
- Testimony on Legislative Proposals for Paid Family and Medical Leave (2020)
- Comments to Senate Finance Committee Roundtable on Paid Leave Proposals in the COVID Era (2020)
- Response to U.S. Department of Labor Request for Information on Paid Leave (2020)
- Testimony on “Balancing Work, Health, and Family: The Case for Expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act” (2020)
- States Leading on Leave: A Playbook on Winning Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Save Families First: Workers’ Voices & the Need for Action (2020)
- Paid Family and Medical Leave & The Self-Employed (2019)
- Paid Family and Medical Leave & Nonstandard Employees (2019)
- A Foundation and A Blueprint: Building the Workplace Leave Laws We Need After Twenty-Five Years of the Family & Medical Leave Act (2018)
- Investing in Our Families: The Case for Paid Family Leave in New York and the Nation (2015)
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, thirteen states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, 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.
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.
- Know Your Rights: The Family and Medical Leave Act
- What Should LGBT Families Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act?
- What Should Veterans & Military Families Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Percentage of US mothers who return to work within less than 2 weeks of giving birth
Number of countries that do not guarantee paid maternity leave (the United States, Suriname and Papua New Guinea)
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