What is Paid Family Leave?

Paid Family Leave is an employee-funded insurance program that gives Californians financial support when they need to take time off work to care for a new child or a family member facing a serious illness, such as COVID-19. It provides a safety net for working families, especially in times of crisis.

The insurance program was created in 2004 to acknowledge that bonding time with a parent gives a newborn baby their best chance at good health and future success. Benefits of the program include 60 or 70 percent of normal weekly wages for up to eight weeks.

Why Paid Family Leave is Essential:

woman smiling and hugging mother
  • Use of Paid Family Leave is associated with higher rates of breastfeeding and improvements in overall child health, along with reduced rates of infant mortality.
  • Time away from work allows parents to talk, read and sing with their baby, which has a profound impact on their development.
  • Parent bonding time can reduce anxiety and promote happiness across a child’s lifetime, and also supports the present and future mental and physical health of both parents.
  • For seriously ill children, having a parent stay with them in the hospital has been shown to reduce the length of hospital stays by one-third.
  • Use of Paid Family Leave improves employee morale, reduces turnover and promotes business growth.
  • Research shows that workers are more productive and stay longer with employers who support parental leave.
  • Paid Family Leave helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by allowing workers to stay home with sick family members. Without paid leave, there is a higher risk of workers bringing the virus from home into the workplace.

The Issue:

While many agree Paid Family Leave is a developmental imperative, only half of eligible mothers and one-quarter of eligible fathers use Paid Family Leave. Low payments and the lack of job protection are the primary reasons California families are missing out on benefits they pay for. With workers only being paid 60 percent or 70 percent of what they usually earn during leave, it can be hard for many families to cover basic monthly bills. On top of that, a lack of job protection means a worker could lose their job or be retaliated against for taking leave.

California must provide more pay, more time, and guaranteed job protection within Paid Family Leave.

baby hand holding adult finger

The Solution:

We need to protect our families and invest in the future of our children by improving Paid Family Leave. Additionally, a better Paid Family Leave policy will be instrumental to the economic recovery of all Californians. The Governor’s Paid Family Leave Task Force recently released recommendations that align with our campaign principles and reinforce the need to improve the program. The Task Force suggests a longer term, step-by-step plan with a phased approach which includes:

  • Job protection for all workers
  • Expanding benefits from 8 to 12 weeks (while the Governor’s vision is 6 months)
  • Increasing wage replacement from 60 percent or 70 percent to 75 percent or 90 percent, depending on regular annual earnings

The Strong Leave for Strong Families campaign will mobilize to make our voices heard around these and other proposals that arise during the California budget and legislative process. Let’s work together to create a Paid Family Leave program that serves all Californians.


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