A state-by-state guide to parental leave

Share
More
A state-by-state guide to parental leave

Of the 41 richest countries in the world, 40 offer at least eight weeks of paid leave to expecting or new mothers, according to research from UNICEF. All but nine offer paid leave to fathers. The one country to offer neither? The United States.

“Every other country has a policy where, if you’re a pregnant woman who delivers a baby with a high-paying job, you get a certain amount of paid time off,” said Stephen Bezruchka, a lecturer at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Without a national policy providing paid family leave, parents often rely on the generosity of their employers. According to federal data, only 17% of parents have access to paid family leave. (Learn the right benefits questions to ask your new employer.)

“The vast majority of workers do not have access to employer paid leave,” said Maya Rossin-Slater, a professor of health research and policy at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Access is highly unequal. Thirty percent of the highest earners have access to paid family leave, compared to 5% of the lowest-earning workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Leaving it to companies themselves, you’re going to create large inequities in access and ability to use leave for families,” Rossin-Slater said.

The Family & Medical Leave Act

The U.S. does have a family leave law, but it provides for unpaid leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees to 12 workweeks of leave in a one-year period to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition. It also requires employers to restore most workers to the same or a similar job with equivalent pay and benefits when they return from their leave and bans employers from retaliating against workers who take family leave.

To be eligible, employees must have worked for the same employer for a year, for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to taking the leave, and in a location where the employer has at least 50 employees.

If you work somewhere that doesn't offer paid leave, one way to protect your income before pregnancy is purchasing disability insurance, which pays out if you're too ill or injured to work. If you're a prospective parent, check out our pre-pregnancy financial planning guide.

The impact of family leave

In a review of existing research written for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Rossin-Slater found that access to short-term paid family leave is associated with improved career trajectories for working mothers and better health outcomes for both children and mothers. Specifically, access to leave seems to lower maternal stress, increase the amount of time children spend with parents and improve breastfeeding rates.

Opponents of paid family leave say it raises costs for employers, but the research doesn’t support this, Rossin-Slater said.

“Most of the evidence suggests that for employers, basically there’s not much of an affect, either positive or negative,” she said.

The future of paid family leave

There has been some movement toward a federal paid family leave law. The Family and Medical Insurance Act has floated around Congress for a few years, but has never gained much traction. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York sponsored the latest edition this year.

“It’s been challenging but I would say it’s much more under discussion today than it was five or 10 years ago,” Rossin-Slater said.

Family leave legislation has received few updates since the FMLA was passed back in 1993. In the meantime, states have stepped in with their own parental leave policies that expand on the FMLA, either by expanding the duration of leave, opening up eligibility or, in some cases, offering paid leave programs, funded through a mix of taxes on employers and employees. A handful of states also offer temporary disability insurance to people who can’t work due to pregnancy or childbirth.

California became the first state to pass a paid family leave law in 2004. Most recently, Washington, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts have all passed paid leave laws, set to go in effect in 2020 or 2021. Check out our guide to parental leave policies in every state.

Note: Federal and state governments, as well as certain often offer more expansive parental leave benefits to their own employees. This guide covers the minimum benefits states require private employers to provide, as well as the benefits available to all workers within states.

A state-by-state guide to paid parental leave in every state

Alabama

Alabama doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Alaska

Alaska doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Arizona

Arizona doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Arkansas

Arkansas doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

California

Duration: Up to six weeks paid. Workers are also eligible for four months unpaid pregnancy disability leave, depending on hours worked per week and 12 weeks unpaid leave after the arrival of a child.

Benefit amount: 60% to 70% of recently weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $1,252.

Job protection: Yes, but only for workers who are disabled due to pregnancy or childbirth.

Eligibility: Must have earned $300 in wages in California to receive paid leave.

Colorado

Colorado doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Connecticut (effective 2021)

Duration: Up to 12 weeks paid, plus another two if the employee experiences a serious health condition.

Benefit amount: Up to 60 times the Connecticut minimum wage.

Job protection: Yes, for workers who have been employed for at least three months.

Eligibility: Must have worked for an employer for at least 12 weeks.

Delaware

Delaware doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Florida

Florida doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Georgia

Goergia doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Hawaii

Duration: Up to 26 weeks.

Benefit amount: Up to 58% of average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $1,088.08.

Job protection: No

Eligibility: Must have worked at least 14 weeks in Hawaii.

Idaho

Idaho doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Illinois

Illinois doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Indiana

Indiana doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Iowa

Duration: Up to eight weeks.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Must work at a company with at least four employees.

Kansas

Kansas doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Kentucky

Kentucky doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Louisiana

Duration: Up to six weeks for pregnancy or childbirth, up to four months for a pregnancy or childbirth-related disability.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: None

Eligibility: Employees who have worked from an employer with at least 25 workers, for more than 20 calendar weeks.

Maine

Duration: Up to 10 workweeks

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Must work for an employer with at least 15 workers for 12 consecutive months.

Maryland

Duration: Up to 12 weeks unpaid.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: No

Eligibility: Employer must have at least 15 employees, and employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.

Massachusetts (effective 2021)

Duration: Up to eight weeks unpaid. (Will increase to 12 weeks paid in 2021.)

Benefit amount: Starting in 2021, workers whose average weekly wage is 50% or less than the state average weekly wage will receive 80% of their average weekly wage, up to $850 per week. All other employees receive 50% of their average weekly wage, up to $850 per week.

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Must work for employer with at least eight workers.

Michigan

Duration: Workers can accrue paid leave at a rate of one hour for every 35 hours worked, though employers can cap the amount at one hour accrued per week. Accrued hours can be rolled over into the next year.

Benefit amount: 100% of wages.

Job protection: No.

Eligibility: Employers with 50 or more workers, regardless of the number of hours worked. Federal employees are not eligible.

Minnesota

Minnesota doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Mississippi

Mississippi doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Missouri

Missouri doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Montana

Duration: Employers must provide a “reasonable leave of absence” for pregnancy.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Only applies to pregnant workers.

Nebraska

Nebraska doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Nevada

Nevada doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

New Hampshire

Duration: Determined by a physician.

Benefit amount: Employers must pay benefits equivalent to other disabilities.

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Only applies to workers disabled due to pregnancy or childbirth.

New Jersey (effective 2020)

Duration: Up to six weeks for new parents. Starting on July 1, 2020, paid leave will be raised to 12 weeks.

Benefit amount: Up to $650 a week, approximately 67% of average weekly wage. Temporary disability benefits are also available for pregnant mothers. Beginning on July 1, 2020, the benefit amount will go up to 85% of the average weekly wage up to a maximum weekly benefit of 70% of the state average weekly wage.

Job protection: No

Eligibility: New parents who have worked 20 weeks or earned $8,600.

New Mexico

New Mexico doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

New York (effective 2021)

Duration: New York provides up to 10 weeks (increasing to 12 weeks by 2021) of paid leave to new parents.

Benefit amount: Up to 55% of the state average weekly wage ($1,401.17), or 746.41 per week

Job protection: Yes.

Eligibility: Must have worked 26 consecutive weeks for at least 20 hours a week, or 175 consecutive days for less than 20 hours a week.

North Carolina

North Carolina doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

North Dakota

North Dakota doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Ohio

Duration: A “reasonable period of time” after the birth of a child.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Applies to pregnant employees or those who recently had children.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Oregon

Duration: Up to 12 weeks unpaid for new parents, or for pregnancy disability leave.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Must have been employed for 180 days prior to leave working an average of 25 hours a week at any employer with 25 or more employees.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Rhode Island

Duration: Up to four weeks paid, in additional to unpaid job-protected leave of absence for up to 13 consecutive weeks in any two calendar years to new parents.

Benefit amount: Approxiamtely 60% of weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $852 per week. Parents who are unable to work due to pregnancy qualify for temporary temporary disability insurance: Through this, new parents can receive a maximum of $867 a week for up to 30 weeks.

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Employer must have at least 50 employees. A worker must have earned at least $12,600 in the base period.

South Carolina

Duration: Up to 12 weeks unpaid for new parents.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Employers with at least 15 employees who provide temporarily disabled leave to workers must extend the same benefits to workers disabled due to pregnancy.

South Dakota

South Dakota doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Tennessee

Duration: Up to four months leave after the arrival of a new child. Employers decide whether the leave is paid.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Employees who have worked for the same employer for at least one year full-time.

Texas

Texas doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Utah

Utah doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Vermont

Duration: Up to 12 weeks unpaid leave during pregnancy or after the arrival of a new child within a calendar year

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: To qualify, workers must be employed at a company with at least 10 employees and have worked for the same company for 30 hours a week, for at least a year.

Virginia

Virginia doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Washington (effective 2020)

Duration: 20 weeks unpaid maternity leave after the arrival of a new child. Beginning in 2020, the state will allow 12 weeks of paid leave.

Benefit amount: Beginning in 2020, workers with average weekly wages 50% or less than the statewide average weekly wage will receive 90% of their weekly wage. All other workers will receive 25% of the average state weekly wage in addition to 50% of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $1,000 per week.

Job protection: Only for employees who meet certain conditions.

Eligibility: Workers must have worked for the same employer for one year for at least 1,250 hour to qualify for unpaid leave. Workers at companies with 50 or more employees who have worked more than 820 hours during the qualifying period are able to receive paid leave. Federal employees are not covered.

Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia)

Duration: Eight weeks of paid leave to new parents who work in the District starting in July 2020.

Benefit amount: The maximum weekly benefit is $1,000.

Job protection: Leave is job-protected at employers with at least 20 workers.

Eligibility: At least 50% of employee’s work must have occured in the District, under a covered employer.

West Virginia

West Virginia doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Wisconsin

Duration: Six weeks job-protected family leave a year for the arrival of a new child. If pregnancy causes a worker to be temporarily disabled, employers must provide the same benefits as they do to other disabled workers.

Benefit amount: None

Job protection: Yes

Eligibility: Employers with at least 50 employees

Wyoming

Wyoming doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA.

Image: Aleksandar Nakic