CFED Scorecard

CFED Assets & Opportunity Scorecard

Businesses & Jobs
Paid Leave
Overview

Millions of workers are forced to choose between keeping their income and taking time off work to care for a loved one because they lack the basic leave benefits to protect their earnings and jobs. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job-protection for employees that take leave for personal or family illness, family medical leave, adoption or foster care; however, it does not require that employer pay their employees during their leave. In addition, the FMLA only covers some workers: those that work for firms with 50 or more workers; and those who have longer tenures or have worked at least 1,250 annual hours. Further the law defines “family” as only a child, spouse or parent.

What States Can Do

To enable workers to address family or health issues without jeopardizing their earnings or job security, states should adopt paid leave policies, including paid medical, family and sick leave. Paid leave is the best policy alternative; however, states can take incremental steps to improve leave policies by expanding the FMLA to apply to employers with fewer than 50 workers; covering employees who have less tenure or have worked fewer than 1,250 annual hours; and including domestic partners, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren in the definition of “family.”

Strength of State Policies: Paid Leave 1

Does state require employers to offer paid medical, family or sick leave?Does state expand FMLA to cover more workers?
Paid leave
required?
What kind of leave?Expanded FMLA?How?
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California Family, medical and sick
Colorado 2 Definition of family
Connecticut Sick Less tenure or fewer hours worked
Delaware
District of Columbia Sick Smaller employers, less tenure or
fewer hours worked, definition of family
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii Medical Less tenure or fewer hours worked,
definition of family
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine Smaller employers, less tenure or
fewer hours worked, definition of family
Maryland 3
Massachusetts Sick
Michigan
Minnesota Smaller employers, less tenure
or fewer hours worked
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey Family and medical Smaller employers, less tenure or
fewer hours worked, definition of family
New Mexico
New York Medical
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon Sick Smaller employers, less tenure or
fewer hours worked, definition of family
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island Family and medical Smaller employers, definition of family
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont Smaller employers
Virginia
Washington 4 Family Definition of family
West Virginia
Wisconsin Less tenure or fewer hours worked,
definition of family
Wyoming

Notes on the Data

1. "Work & Family Policy Database," National Partnership for Women and Families. Accessed July 22, 2013. Updated data on paid leave were provided through email correspondence in July 2015 with Vasu Reddy at the National Partnership for Women and Families. States are given credit if they offer at least one type of paid leave: sick, medical or family. Medical leave includes paid leave for personal injury (including pregnancy), typically provided by a state Temporary Disability Insurance program. States are given credit if they have expanded the FMLA in one of three ways: (1) covering employees of businesses with fewer than 50 workers; covering employees who have less tenure or have worked fewer than 1,250 annual hours; and including domestic partners, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren in the definition of family.

2. In May 2013, Colorado extended family leave rights to workers caring for a domestic partner or partner in a civil union.

3. In May 2014, Maryland expanded job-protected parental leave to workers in firms with 15 or more employees. However, employers can deny the leave request if it would cause "substantial and grievous economic injury."

4. Washington's Paid Parental Leave Law passed in 2007 but has yet to be implemented because of funding issues. The state pregnancy disability law permits pregnant women workers to take leave from work for the entire period of "disability."

How States Are Assessed

States receive credit for paid leave if employers are required to offer at least one type of paid leave: sick, medical or family. Medical leave includes paid leave for personal injury (including pregnancy), typically provided by a state Temporary Disability Insurance program. 

States receive credit for expanding the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they have expanded the FMLA in one of three ways: covering employees of businesses with fewer than 50 workers; covering employees who have less tenure or have worked fewer than 1,250 annual hours; or including domestic partners, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren in the definition of family.

What States Have Done

Nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted some form of paid medical, family or sick leave legislation. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have extended the federal FMLA to cover additional workers.

Making the Case

Since 2007, CFED has provided tips to help advocates build a campaign to advance asset-building policies. Although the specific policies featured in the Scorecard have changed over the years, the strategies discussed in this section are still applicable and can be used to make the case for a number of related policies.

Guidelines for a Successful Campaign1

1. Convey a clear and consistent message. Advocates for job quality standards should focus communication with the media and policymakers on core messages highlighting the strengths of favored policies. Successful minimum wage campaigns in Missouri repeatedly promoted the message that cost of living indexing simply kept the minimum wage from eroding. Effective paid leave advocates continually reinforce the link between paid sick days and preserving public health.

2.  Tout public support and polling. Although public attitudes on minimum wage and job leave policy vary along geographical and political lines, polling has consistently shown that voters are generally supportive of improving low-wage job quality. Raising the minimum wage is an appealingly, intuitive and easily comprehensible policy. When the question was put to Americans in a national poll in 2006 conducted by CNN, 86% supported increasing the minimum wage. More recently, in a fall 2010 nationwide poll, 67% supported raising the minimum wage to the critical threshold of $10 an hour,2 with support proving resilient in recessionary climates. Three-quarters of the public support a law guaranteeing all workers a minimum number of paid sick days.3 Public sentiment was crucial to Connecticut advocates efforts to enact statewide paid sick days. Voters favored the intensely debated legislation by a better than 2:1 margin, with nearly half of voters “strongly” supporting the bill.4

3.  Turn defense into offense. The fight to defend policy achievements, such as preventing new loopholes after the elimination of minimum wage worker exclusions, presents an opportunity to maintain and grow the advocacy coalitions that first helped enact the policy. Gains in job quality standards will be under constant threat by opponents and other interests. Advocates should use these times as windows to grow their constituencies and renew media attention. Through their many defensive efforts, Missouri Jobs with Justice gained more spokespeople representing a broad spectrum of voices – low-wage workers, pastors and small business owners. These spokespeople are equipped to go to the Capitol to testify at hearings, be quoted in newspapers and speak face to face with legislators.

4.  Utilize relevant scholarship and research. Advocates can buffet the common “job-killing” opposition arguments surrounding job quality standards by effectively deploying relevant research and scholarship. Decades of rigorous empirical research has demonstrated that minimum wage increases do not perpetuate unemployment, but rather grow local economies. Studies on California’s paid family leave policy illustrate that the program has had little to no negative effect on employers.5 Further evidence suggests that a paid-sick-days standard helps businesses reduce turnover and improve worker productivity. Since 2007, when San Francisco’s law took effect, job growth has been consistently higher in the city than in neighboring counties that lack a paid-sick-days law, and the city has experienced stronger employment growth in leisure and hospitality, accommodation and food service – the industries that critics claimed would be most affected by a paid-sick-days law.6

 


1  CFED thanks Tsedeye Gebreselassie of the National Employment Law Project and Donnie Morehouse and Charlie Edelen of Missouri Jobs with Justice for their contributions to this section.

2  Celinda Lake, Daniel Gotoff and Matt Price, memo for Raise the Minimum Wage, June 7 2011, “The Economic Power of and Popular Support for Raising the Minimum Wage,” http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com/sites/nelp2/index.php/pages/lake-research-partners-june-2011-memo-on-raising-the-minimum-wage.

3 Tom Smith and Jibum Kim, Paid Sick Days: Attitudes and Experiences, (Washington, DC: Public Welfare Foundation, 2010),  http://news.uchicago.edu/static/newsengine/pdf/100621.paid.sick.leave.pdf.

4  “Key Findings from Connecticut Statewide Survey,” Anzalone Lizst Research, http://everybodybenefits.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Paid-sick-days-ct-poll-memo.pdf. (Accessed May 27, 2011).

5  Eileen Applebaum and Ruth Milkman, Leaves that Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences with Paid Leave in California, (Washington, DC: Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2011).

6 John Petro, Paid Sick Leave Does Not Harm Business Growth or Job Growth, (Washington, DC: Drum Major Institute, 2010), http://everybodybenefits.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Paid_Sick_Leave_Does_Not_Harm.pdf

Case Studies

Since 2007, CFED has provided case studies that capture detailed stories of noteworthy state policy changes.  Although the specific policies featured in the Scorecard have changed over the years, these case studies still serve as instructive lessons drawn from both policy victories and defeats.

Defending Minimum Wage in Missouri (published October 2012)
In Missouri, advocates led by Missouri Jobs with Justice formed Give Missourians a Raise, a campaign to pass a ballot initiative to raise the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50 and index it to an annual cost of living adjustment…Despite the incredible popularity of the minimum wage increase in Missouri, opponents of Missouri’s minimum wage have engaged in a concerted effort each year to weaken the law. Click here to read more.

Paid Sick Leave Laws in DC and Connecticut (published October 2012)
Connecticut and the District of Columbia have led the states in establishing paid sick leave for workers. Advocates and policymakers in both jurisdictions have set a new standard for job quality and security for low-income workers through the passage of paid sick leave legislation. The passage of these laws signals significant progress to ensure earnings and eliminate the risk of job loss during times of illness. Click here to read more.

CFED thanks Vasu Reddy from the National Partnership for Women and Families for her input and expertise on this policy issue.

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