California may join a growing movement in the US to grant paid leave for workers. A California bill that recently passed the state Senate and awaits passage in the Assembly, would allow more than 12 million workers in California to receive paid leave from their jobs to care for sick relatives or bond with new children, according to the LA Times. If approved, the program would be modeled on an existing program that provides partial compensation to disabled workers – an employee who needs to take time off for family reasons would receive as much as 55 percent of his/her salary for as long as 12 weeks. “The traditional caretakers – women – are now at work,” Lissa Bell of the National Partnership for Women & Families told the Times. “So people are having to choose between paying the bills or spending time with loves ones [during emergencies]. That’s not a choice they should have to make.”
The United States is one of few developed nations that does not offer some form of paid parental leave – the US enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993, which requires unpaid leave for workers. Approximately 127 countries offer compensation to parents, while many others have passed similar laws to compensate workers who need time off because of family emergencies. During 2001 and 2002, paid leave legislation has been introduced in 28 states and five states have passed bills that require states to study the costs of providing paid leave, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Five states in the US offer a form of paid leave called temporary disability insurance, three states offer subsidies for low income parents for child care, at least 24 states allow public employees to use sick leave to care for sick family members, and at least three states require private employers to allow employees to use sick leave to care for family, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.