Paid Family Leave Could Take Effect Soon; Here's What It Means for Parents

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New legislation for paid family leave could take effect into a law that will benefit all parents across the country. If passed, the proposal will allow parents 12 weeks of paid time off from work to care for a newborn or other family members with medical issues.

Currently, some states and private companies provide paid family leaves for their employees. 

According to the survey, only 21 percent of workers in the U.S. are benefitting from a private or state-wide provision. Many lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum agree that this should be adopted as a national policy. 

The need to change the existing Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which allows workers to take long but unpaid leaves during a family crisis, was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Congress approved the release of stimulus packages and business support packages for employers to help their workers, the lawmakers said such benefits should become a permanent part of the federal system. 

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Benefits of Paid Family Leaves

Under the program, workers in all sectors, including gig and self-employed workers, who have been employed for at least six months, will be qualified to receive at least two-thirds of their earnings during the time they take time off from the federal government. However, their paid family leave should fall under specific qualifications, such as birth, adoption, or foster care of a child.

If workers need to look after a family member with a serious illness or a loved one's military deployment would impact their lives, they could also take a paid family leave. This policy will also cover bereavement leave, which has not yet been covered under federal law.

States with existing paid family leave benefits, such as California, New York, or Colorado, and 25 percent of the companies in the U.S. could still keep their existing policies if it's equal or higher than the federal plan.  

Democrats in Congress are hoping that the policy will be in effect by June 2023. Analysts believe that the ambitious plan has a high chance of turning into law, especially when 80 percent of American voters support the bill. As it is, the U.S. is the only developed country in the world without a federal paid family leave benefit.

The Congress Debate and Your Support

Paid family leave is one of the provisions under President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, which has been under deliberation in Congress since he took office. Because of the proposal's scale, Congress has to ensure that there will be enough federal funding to support the programs under Biden's reforms.

However, there's still a good chance Congress could scrap this particular provision on paid family leaves if the budget does not suffice. Biden's administration said that this plan would entail a budget of over $225 billion in government spending for at least a decade.

Thus, advocates are mobilizing the public to let their congressmen know that they favor the paid family leave proposal. Philanthropist Melinda Gates urged her followers on Twitter not to let this opportunity slip away because it will be women and moms who will suffer. Women are usually the primary caregivers whenever a family plunges into a health crisis.

"Whether the legislation will cross the finish line remains the '$500 billion question,'" Michelle McGrain of the National Partnership for Women and Families said. "I think many members of Congress understand how life-changing this kind of a program would be."

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