Potential for Federal Mandated Paid Family Leave

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee paid family leave.  In 1993, the United States enacted the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  FMLA provides that eligible employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 workweeks of leave during a 12 month period.  To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must work for a company that has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least a year, and for at least 1,250 hours.   FMLA only provides job security, it does not provide paid leave.  

Currently, states have the authority to decide whether new parents will have paid family leave.  For example, starting in 2018, New York enacted paid time off for employees to bond with a new born or care for a family member.  New York’s paid family leave allowed employees to return to their same or comparable job and in 2018, receive up to 8 weeks of paid leave at 50% their weekly Average Weekly Wage, capped at 50% of New York State Average Weekly Wage.  By 2021, employees are eligible for 12 weeks of leave at 67% of the employees Average Weekly Wage, capped at 67% of New York State Average Weekly Wage.

Recently, lawmakers have debated a $3.5 trillion social spending package that included, amongst many other social issues, a Federal mandated paid family leave.  However, after push back to decrease the amount of the social spending package, President Biden took paid leave out of the package.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to bring paid family leave back into the social package, decreasing the mandated leave from 12 weeks to 4 weeks.  Although paid leave is back on the table, there is no guarantee that 4 week paid leave will pass Congress. 

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About Annabel Stanley

Annabel Stanley is a Law Clerk at Faruqi & Faruqi’s New York office. Annabel works with attorneys specializing in employment law and wage and hour class action litigation.

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