Navigating the Patchwork of Paid Family Leave in the United States

Business, Other News
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Recently Kevin Price, Host of the nationally syndicated Price of Business Show, interviewed attorney and HR consultant Hessam Parzivand. Parzivand is a regular on the Price of Business show. 

Price and Parzivand discuss the efforts of states around the country in providing family and medical leave.The United States stands alone among developed nations in its lack of a national paid family leave policy. While the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid job protection for eligible employees, it does not mandate paid leave. This has left a patchwork of state and local laws, as well as employer-provided policies, to fill the gaps.In the absence of federal action, states have taken the lead in establishing paid family leave programs. As of today, nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted such laws. These programs vary in terms of eligibility, duration, and funding mechanisms. For example, California’s program provides up to eight weeks of paid leave, while New York’s offers six weeks.Employer-provided paid family leave policies are also becoming more common. According to a 2023 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 42% of employers offer paid family leave. These policies vary widely in terms of generosity and eligibility. Some employers offer paid leave to all employees, while others only offer it to certain categories of employees, such as salaried workers or those who have been with the company for a certain period of time.Despite the progress that has been made, there is still a long way to go in ensuring that all Americans have access to paid family leave. Many workers are still ineligible for paid leave under either state or employer-provided policies. This can have a significant impact on families, particularly those with low incomes.Advocates for paid family leave argue that it is essential for the well-being of families and the economy as a whole. They point to studies that show that paid family leave can improve child health and development, increase maternal employment, and boost economic growth.In the absence of federal action, it is likely that the patchwork of state and local laws will continue to evolve. However, there is also growing momentum for a national paid family leave policy. A recent poll by the National Institute for Family and Child Health found that 72% of Americans support paid family leave.


Parzivand is an attorney in Houston, Texas that focuses on labor law. He is a long time contributor on the Price of Business show. Learn more about him at

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