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Paid Family and Medical Leave

What is Paid Family and Medical Leave (Paid Leave)?

Paid leave is paid time off work to take care of a personal family matter or a medical issue. This can include giving birth, caring for a loved one, or having an emergency medical procedure. The benefit of Paid Leave is that you can still receive wages and not worry about unemployment while you take time to care for yourself and loved ones.

Do all employees have access to Paid Leave?

No, only a small percentage of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave and medical leave. Check with your company’s HR department to verify whether or not Paid Leave is a benefit for you.

Several states have established state Paid Leave plans for residents who are working. These plans do differ by state. Check this summary to see if your state has a plan and, if so, what the eligibility requirements are.

Currently there is no national Paid Leave plan offering this benefit to all employees. A national plan is a part of the Build Back Better Act going through Congress currently. The proposed Paid Leave includes up to 4 weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness leave.

What can I use Paid Leave for?

Most plans, whether privately or government funded, provide Paid Leave for the following reasons:

  • Care for a new child (birth, bonding, adoption, foster).
  • Care for a family member (child, parent, spouse, etc.) who has a serious health condition.
  • Care for yourself when a serious health condition or emergency arises
  • Situations arising from the military deployment of a spouse, child, or parent to a foreign county.
  • Care for a family member who is a covered service member and has a serious injury or illness.

Check your state or company plan, since they may have additional rules or qualifying situations.

I don’t live in a state with a Paid Leave plan and my employer doesn’t offer one. What do I do?

The national Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specific reasons while still keeping their group health insurance coverage. This means that certain workers are entitled to twelve work weeks of unpaid leave each 12-month period for the same family and medical situations mentioned above.

Additionally, if the eligible employee is a covered service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave), the employee can take up to twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for the service member with a serious injury or illness.

FMLA does not offer payment during caregiving. But it does offer job protection and health insurance coverage during caregiving. For more information, go to our Caregiver Resources and Caregiver Organizations page to read about other options for financial information and support while caregiving.