How Does Paid Family Leave Work?

When money is tight and a loved one is sick, how do you decide if you should go to work or stay home to care for them? What if you are the one who is ill, and you need time to take care of yourself? Who is going to earn money to pay the everyday living expenses? No one ever wants to be in this position, but this is a real problem faced by Americans every day. That is why some states are beginning to offer paid family leave programs.

Who is Eligible for Paid Family Leave?

The United States does not have a nationwide paid family and medical leave policy. There are, however, a few states that have adopted laws that allow employees to take a leave of absence with pay in order to care for their own health or that of an ailing loved one. These states are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

Each State Has a Different Paid Family Leave Mandate

Each of these states have their own mandate. There isn’t a specific set of requirements that is followed by all of them. There are, however, some common components in most of them. These include:

  • The program is overseen by the State
  • Funded partially by the employees
  • Provide partial pay replacement for qualified leave
  • Included leave reasons are similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Require leave to run concurrently with FMLA (when both apply)
  • Determine employee eligibility by work location, not home of residence.
  • Require documentation

Where to Find Specifics for Each State

Each state posts its annual contribution rates, taxable wage base, and maximum weekly benefit amounts. The National Partnership for Women and Families has a listing of each state and its specific requirements and conditions for receiving the paid family leave coverage. This document will cover information like what situations make you eligible for paid leave and the definition of a family member. It also covers the maximum length of paid leave, employee eligibility requirements, and how the insurance system is funded.

If you are lucky enough to live in a state that offers this assistance, and you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to leave your job to care for yourself or a loved one who is ill, this program may help you through this difficult time. Contact your HR Department for guidance through your state’s program.