On Wednesday, Rhode Island became the third U.S. state to offer a paid family leave program, which will make most of the state workforce eligible to take paid time off to care for a new child or a sick loved one.
“It’s for those unexpected, serious health crises that people can’t plan for,” said Senator Gayle Goldin (D-RI). “It’s a very useful tool for families facing a challenge.”
The program will be funded through a paycheck deduction, similar to Social Security. The benefit would equal 66 percent of an employee’s paycheck, but it is capped for workers who make over $61,400 per year.
A similar federal program, The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), was introduced in December by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). If passed, the much-needed Act will allow workers to take paid time off to address a serious illness of their own, a spouse, parent or child or to care for a new baby or adopted child. If passed, employees can earn up to 12 weeks of paid family leave each year through the creation of a national insurance fund.
Currently, only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave and fewer than 40 percent have paid medical leave, meaning many workers – particularly women and low wage employees – are just one illness or birth away from financial disaster.
Media Resources: Associated Press via Boston.com 1/1/14; The Washington Post 12/29/13; Feminist Majority 12/12/13; Feminist Newswire 12/12/13;