Principles for a Paid Family Leave Program for All
Despite the overwhelming benefits of paid family leave, most workers in the United States lack access. No one should be forced to choose between taking care of their family when they need it most or securing a paycheck. Giving all children a healthy start to life should include PFL for all workers and should take into account the following principles:
- Leave should be universally accessible, not tethered to a zip code or where workers are employed.
- Eligibility should extend to independent contractors, gig workers, or employees of any size business.
- Broad eligibility for paid family leave, including: new baby/adoption/foster; care for a family member with a serious health condition; a worker’s own serious health condition; partner in active-duty military, or a survivor of domestic violence.
- The definition of ‘family’ should be broad, including: a child, parent or parent of a spouse or domestic partner, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or an individual with whom the covered individual has a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship, regardless of biological or legal relationship.
- Like Social Security, a program should be attached to the worker, not the employer.
- The program offers at least 12 weeks, and ideally up to 24 weeks, of leave.
- Wage replacement rates should be progressive (meaning workers in low-wage jobs get a higher percentage of their wages covered) and regularly adjusted for inflation.
- Participants receive full job protection.
- The program provides a streamlined application and claims process. Funds are available for awareness and outreach to key groups that underutilize leave benefits and to businesses to help them comply. Legal advocates and workers’ rights organizations work in tandem with administering agencies to highlight and address noncompliance among businesses and, as needed, take legal actions.