United States Federal Law

There is currently no U.S. federal law mandating paid family or medical leave. The U.S. is the only Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member that doesn't guarantee some form of PFML.

The U.S. is one of only eight countries in the world without a national policy mandating paid maternity leave – along with Suriname, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, and the Marshall Islands.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (1993)

The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of job-protected leave for qualified reasons. The law does not mandate or provide for pay during the period of leave. 


  • Companies with 50+ employees
  • Public agencies
  • Elementary and secondary schools

Eligible employees:

  • Have 1+ year of tenure, and
  • Have worked 1,250+ work hours in the past year, and
  • Work at a location where 50+ employees work within 75 miles

Qualifying Reasons:

  • A new child (via birth, adoption, or foster care)
  • A spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
  • A serious personal health condition that prevents working

For more information, refer to the U.S. Department of Labor's materials on FMLA.


State Disability Insurance Laws

Five states in the U.S. have state-mandated disability insurance laws, through which birth mothers and employees injured outside of work may receive paid leave. These states are: Hawaii, California, New JerseyRhode Island, and New York. Other states are considering similar policies.

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State Paid Family Leave Laws

Currently four states in the U.S. have more inclusive paid family leave laws, funded through payroll deductions. Each law is structured differently and the length of paid leave and level of pay provided vary by state.


Rhode Island

Pay rate: ~55% of wages (max of $1173/week), rising to 60-70% of wages by 2018
Duration: Up to 6 weeks/year
Start Year: 2004
Program: Paid Family Leave (PFL), a component of the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program
See: Source for more information


Pay rate:  ~60% of wages (max of $817/week)
Duration: Up to 4 weeks/year
Start Year: 2014
Program: Temporary Caregiver Insurance
See: Source for more information


New Jersey

Pay rate: ~67% of wages (max of $633/week)
Duration: Up to 6 weeks/year
Start Year: 2009
Program: Family Leave Insurance under Temporary Disability Benefits
See: Source for more information

New York

Pay rate: ~50% of pay (max of 50% NY average) in 2018, rising to ~67% of pay (max of 67% NY average) in 2021, when fully phased-in
Duration: Up to 8 weeks/year, rising to 12 weeks/year when phased-in
Start Year: 2018 (passed in 2016)
Program: Paid Family Leave
See: Source for more information

Washington D.C. also passed a PFML law in 2016. It provides up to 90% of wages (max of $1000/week) to private-sector workers. It provides up to 8 weeks for parental leave, 6 weeks for caregiving leave, and 2 weeks for medical leave.