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: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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