A state-by-state guide to parental leave

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By

Myles Ma

Myles Ma

Senior Managing Editor

Myles Ma is a health care expert & personal finance writer for Policygenius. He edits the Easy Money newsletter.

Updated October 29, 2021|11 min read

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Of the 41 richest countries in the world, 40 offer at least eight weeks of paid leave to pregnant people, according to research from UNICEF. All but nine offer paid leave to the non-birthing partners. The one country to offer neither? The United States.

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

Without a national policy providing paid family leave, parents are often forced to rely on the generosity of their employers — and not all employers are generous. According to federal data, only 17% of parents in the U.S. have access to paid family leave.

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

Access is highly unequal. Of those with access to paid leave, one-quarter are in the top 10% of wage earners, and just 4% of people with paid leave are in the lowest 10% of wage earners, 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 says.

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 work weeks 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're a prospective parent, check out our financial guide for parents-to-be

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. Especially notable is that access to leave seems to lower maternal stress and increase the amount of time children spend with parents. 

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

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

The future of paid family leave

Family leave legislation has received few updates since the FMLA was passed back in 1993. 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 in 2020. 

Many Americans did get a taste of paid parental and family leave in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law in March 2020, temporarily provided expanded family and medical leave from April 1 through Dec. 31 of that year. While the Act did not specifically provide benefits to new parents, many did qualify for paid leave from it. The FFCRA required companies with 50 to 499 employees to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for eligible workers, including those who needed to care for children at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March of 2021, President Joe Biden introduced his Build Back Better plan, which included 12 weeks of paid family leave. However, as of Nov. 1, 2021, all paid family leave had been removed, though advocates, including Sen. Gillibrand, vowed to keep fighting for its inclusion. 

In the meantime, some Americans do have access to paid leave through state parental leave policies that expand on the FMLA, either by increasing 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, and two states — Colorado and Oregon — have passed family leave laws that aren't paying out benefits yet, but will in the next few years.

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 eight weeks paid. 

Benefit amount: 60% to 70% of recently weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $1,357. 

Job protection: No, but job protection is available from the FMLA. 

Eligibility: Must have earned at least $300 in wages in California in the previous 12 months.

More information: https://edd.ca.gov/disability/paid-family-leave/

Colorado (effective Jan. 1, 2024)

Colorado doesn’t currently offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA, however it has passed Proposition 18: Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program, and will begin paying benefits on Jan. 1, 2024.

More information: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/initiative%2520referendum_2019-2020%20283bb.pdf

Connecticut

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.

More information: https://ctpaidleave.org/s/?language=en_US

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

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

Hawaii

Hawaii doesn’t offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA, but does have disability insurance that birthing parents can qualify for. 

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: Only available to birthing parents as paid medical leave. Must have worked at least 14 weeks in Hawaii.

More information: https://labor.hawaii.gov/dcd/home/about-tdi/

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

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

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

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

Maine

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

Maryland

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

Massachusetts

Duration: Up 12 weeks paid leave. 

Benefit amount: 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: W-2 workers, self-employed workers, and some 1099-MISC workers in Massachusetts.

More information: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/paid-family-and-medical-leave-pfml-fact-sheet

Michigan

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

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

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

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

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

New Jersey

Duration: 12 weeks of paid family leave. 

Benefit amount: The maximum weekly benefit rate is $903 per week. 

Job protection: Not beyond that provided by the FMLA 

Eligibility: In the past four quarters, you must have worked 20 weeks earning at least $220 weekly, or have earned a combined total of $11,000.

More information: https://www.myleavebenefits.nj.gov/worker/fli/

New Mexico

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

New York

Duration: New York provides 12 weeks of paid leave. 

Benefit amount: Workers get 67% of their average weekly wages, up to a maximum of $971.61.

Job protection: Yes.

Eligibility:  Employees who work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Employees who work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after working 175 days.

More information: https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/

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

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

Oklahoma

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

Oregon

Oregon doesn’t currently offer any job protection or leave benefits to expecting or new parents beyond the FMLA, though it has passed Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance and currently expects to begin paying benefits on Sept. 1, 2023.

More information: https://www.oregon.gov/employ/PFMLI/Pages/default.aspx

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. 

Benefit amount: Minimum of $107 per week and maximum of $978  per week. 

Job protection: Yes

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

More information: https://dlt.ri.gov/individuals/temporary-disability-caregiver-insurance

South Carolina

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

South Dakota

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

Tennessee

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

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

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

Virginia

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

Washington

Duration: Twelve weeks of paid leave to new parents, including birthing and non-birthing parents. 

Benefit amount: Workers can receive up to 90% of their weekly pay, up to a maximum of $1,206 in 2021 (in 2022 it increases to $1,327).

Job protection: Job protection is not required in some instances, including: if a company has fewer than 50 workers, if the parent has worked at the company less than a year or for less that 1,250 hours for the company in the year prior to the leave. 

Eligibility: Workers must work at least 820 hours in Washington over a qualifying period of about a year to qualify for unpaid leave. The hours do not have to be for the same employer. Certain workers are not covered, including federal employees and self-employed workers who do not opt into the state program.

More information: https://paidleave.wa.gov/

Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia)

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

Benefit amount: Workers may receive 90% of wages up to 1.5 times DC’s minimum wage and 50% of wages above 1.5 times DC’s minimum wage. The maximum weekly benefit is $1,000.

Job protection: No, but FMLA does provide job protection during your Paid Family Leave in D.C.

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

More information: https://dcpaidfamilyleave.dc.gov/workers/.

West Virginia

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

Wisconsin

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

Wyoming

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

Image: Aleksandar Nakic