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REPORT: States Leading on Leave: A Playbook on Winning Paid Family and Medical Leave

No one should have to worry about losing their job for putting their family first during some of the most important moments in life. From the first moments of a child’s life to the last moments in the life of a loved one, we all need time to care for our families, and yet the United States is one of just six countries in the world that does not guarantee paid leave for workers. Although some workers are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), just 39% of workers are eligible for and can afford to take six weeks of unpaid leave—workers of color, especially Hispanic immigrant workers, are the least likely to be able to access federal FMLA protections.

In the absence of federal action, lawmakers in 13 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation establishing a social insurance program that most workers can access to take paid family and medical leave (PFML) to recover from a serious illness, to bond with a new child, or to provide care to a family member with a serious illness.

Momentum for paid family and medical leave legislation has grown rapidly, with eight PFML campaigns celebrating success in the last five years. The below report, co-authored with our partners at State Innovation Exchange and New America, summarizes some of the lessons learned by the legislative champions and advocates who led the way in ensuring that no one has to choose between caring for their loved ones and the paycheck that their family relies on.


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