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Calls for paid family leave are getting louder

Momentum is building in the fight for paid family leave.A number of big companies made headlines in recent yea...

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 8:03 AM
Updated: Feb 14, 2018 8:03 AM

Momentum is building in the fight for paid family leave.

A number of big companies made headlines in recent years by expanding benefits for new parents. And a handful of cities and states have set up their own funds to provide paid parental leave when employers do not.

Paid parental leave has gained broad support among Americans and has become a major talking point for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The White House included a family leave plan in its 2019 budget proposal released Monday that aims to provide new parents with six weeks of paid leave.

The budget didn't specify exactly how the benefit would work, but said the current unemployment insurance system, which workers and employers pay into and states administer, would serve "as a base." Adoptive parents would also be eligible for the paid leave.

Under the White House plan, states would be responsible for creating their own individual parental leave programs.

But four states already do.

New York is the latest state to offer new parents paid time off.

The program, funded through payroll contributions, went into effect at the start of 2018. The law guarantees up to eight weeks of paid leave to new moms and dad. The number of weeks increases every year until 2021 to a total of up to 12 weeks. For 2018, eligible new parents will get 50% of their average weekly wage up to a cap.

California was the first to offer paid family leave through the creation of a temporary disability insurance program. The program has been in effect since 2004, and provides up to six weeks of partial paid leave to new parents.

New Jersey offers up to six weeks off with two-thirds of pay up to a set amount. Rhode Island's program, which offers four weeks of leave at partial pay, has been in effect since 2014.

Washington state will start to offer paid family and medical leave to workers in 2020.

And Washington, DC, passed legislation in 2016 that offers up to eight weeks of paid family leave.

Calculate: How much will it cost to raise your child?

The only federal protection new parents currently have is through the 25-year-old Family and Medical Leave Act. It allows eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of a child or a personal or family illness, or to take care of a sick family member. It also offers job protection.

The current law doesn't cover all workers, and many families can't afford to go without a paycheck.

"For too many workers, taking unpaid time off is not an option," said Dina Bakst, co-founder of A Better Balance. "They find themselves returning to work too soon or not taking any time at all because they cant afford it."

Some employers have taken it upon themselves to offer new parents paid leave, but only around 13% of private workers have access to paid family leave though their jobs.

Of the people using FMLA, 75% are taking care of a personal health issue or a sick family member, according to Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families. Trump's paid leave proposal only mentions new parents. It also falls short of the 12-week period established by current law.

Related:8 money mistakes new parents should avoid

The president's budget is not actual legislation, but more of a statement that outlines the White House's priorities. It's up to Congress to move on any of the ideas proposed in the budget and craft laws to turn them into realities.

Paid family leave is starting to gain traction on Capitol Hill as a more bipartisan issue, with lawmakers on both sides working on legislation.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio made headlines recently talking about a plan that would allow new moms to tap their Social Security benefits early following the birth of a child.

This isn't the first time Trump has brought up the issue. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he called for six weeks of paid maternity leave by extending unemployment insurance benefits for women who don't get leave through their employer.

The White House's inclusion of paid parental leave is a step in the right direction to get more widely passed legislation, but the proposal falls short, according to Shabo.

"The country is finally grappling with the fact we need to do something with paid parental leave," she said. "But details matter tremendously."

Tying the parental leave program to state's unemployment insurance program means new parents likely wouldn't get full pay.

"Why is the concept of having a social safety net that holds us while we take out one minute of what is likely going to be a 40-year career a bad thing?" asked Jennifer Owens, founder of Jennwork, a content agency serving women's organizations.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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