Does Your State Have Paid Parental Leave?

Not many states offer paid parental leave, but that's starting to change

gay fathers
Inti St Clair/Getty

If you are having a baby or welcoming a new baby home soon, you may be wondering what type (if any) of parental leave is available to you and your partner.

Right now, the U.S does not offer any federally-mandated or national paid parental leave for new parents. Federal employees, however, are eligible to take six weeks of paid parental leave. The U.S. is actually the only developed country in the world to not mandate maternity or parental leave.

There has been a large movement to push towards more change to at least offer something to help families as they navigate the tricky world of parenting. For the most part, it has been left up to public and private employers to decide how much paid parental leave to offer new mothers and fathers. This can vary by state, by company and by industry. It's best for expecting parents to get familiar with their employers' policies before the baby arrives, whether it's for a new birth or an adoption.

Parental Leave Under the FMLA

Currently, the only sort of workplace leave available at the federal level is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers up to twelve weeks of unpaid time off for individuals who need to care for a baby or other family member, or are sick themselves.

While the FMLA is a valuable safety net and allows employees to keep their employer-sponsored healthcare, the time off is unpaid.

In addition, the FMLA is only accessible to people who work for private employers with 50 or more employees.

Many people supplement the FMLA time off with other paid time off their employers offer, such as sick time or vacation days. And then there are some states whose laws offer additional family leave benefits to new parents.

But these states are in the minority.

States That Offer Paid Parental Leave

There are several cities across the country that offer paid family leave options to city employees, including Pittsburgh, Austin and Kansas City. But only three states in the U.S. offer additional paid leave options for parents outside of the FMLA.

They include California, where mothers can apply for four months of "maternity disability" for a total of 28 weeks of unpaid time off. The California Paid Family Leave insurance program is available through the state's disability insurance program and offers new parents approximately half of their wages for up to six weeks.

San Francisco became the first city to pass a fully-paid six weeks of time off for all parents, including same-sex and adoptive couples, through a program that employees (again the employer has to have at least 50 employees) pay into.

New Jersey offers paid leave in a percentage of two-thirds of a parent's wage for up to six weeks. However, this leave requires that the parent use FMLA or other unpaid leave available to them before getting benefits.

And the Rhode Island Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program offers four weeks of paid leave for parents caring for a baby through birth  adoption, or foster parenting, as well as for those caring for a family member or illness.

Growing Popularity of Paternity Leave

More​ fathers are asking for paternity leave which helps not only end the stigma surrounding men taking paternity leave, but will likely help pave the way for more inclusive paid parental leave policies overall.

Continue Reading