While state family and medical leave is similar to the federal FMLA, it’s administered at the state level and varies in states with paid family leave and without.
Here's what you need to know about family and medical leave:
- The federal FMLA is a baseline.
- There are states that offer more robust definitions of what is covered.
- There are states that have expanded the definitions and the list of "eligible family members."
- Some states offer either paid or unpaid leave depending on the employee's eligibility.
Do you know your state’s laws and regulations regarding family and medical leave? As an employer or HR professional, you’re likely no stranger to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The FMLA requires “covered employers” to provide eligible employees with specified amounts of unpaid, job-protected leave within 12-month periods. Covered employers include public agencies with any number of employees and private-sector employers who have employed 50 or more people for at least 20 workweeks within the current and/or preceding calendar year.
In addition to FMLA coverage, some states have legislation and regulations regarding their own family and medical leave provisions. Some are mandatory, some are voluntary. Some are paid family leave (PFL) programs, and others don’t provide compensation.
Here we’ll cover the states with paid family leave and a few with unpaid leave laws on their books.
Are state family and medical leave the same as federal FMLA?
Before we get into state-specific information and FMLA vs. PFL, let’s cover the basics of the federal FMLA. It governs what happens when an eligible employee must take time off for a covered event. Types of leave vary. Common events include dealing with a serious illness and caring for a new child or sick family member.
In some cases, federal and state protections are the same. As a baseline, all states must comply with the provisions detailed in the federal FMLA. Therefore, at a minimum, each state mandates that most employees at companies with at least 50 employees must receive access to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected:
- Parental leave.
- Personal medical leave.
- Family caregiver leave.
- Military and military caregiver leave.
Conceptually, state family and medical leave is similar to the FMLA. The difference is that it is administered at the state level, which means the rules vary in some way. Depending on the state, family and medical leave may be longer and paid, unpaid, or both. Some states offer expanded job protection, sick leave, or paternity or maternity leave in their programs. Others limit those and other entitlements to FMLA standards. Other details, such as waiting period and maximum weekly benefit, will also vary as applicable.
Moreover, some states have a broader list of eligible family members than others. State family and medical leave laws allow eligible employees to take time off to care for their own medical condition, bond with their new child, or care for an eligible family member.
It’s vital that employers and employees keep tabs on state family and medical leave programs, especially since the list is growing. States that haven’t yet enacted family and medical leave policies might still intend to do so.Thus far, 17 states and the District of Columbia are onboard to some extent. And according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, most have adopted or considered paid family leave.
States with paid family and medical leave programs fund them by employee and/or employer payroll deductions and contributions. These are typically either state-run or private insurance programs.
Which jurisdictions have family and medical leave programs?
As of this writing, the jurisdictions with formalized legislation on their books include:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
Some states provide paid sick leave and unpaid leave, depending on employer and employee eligibility.
Employee leave information by state
Here we have provided broad state-specific family and medical leave details. State by state, definitions and qualifiers may differ regarding covered or qualifying family members, “loved ones,” and specific circumstances.
|State||Coverage and Participation||Duration||Reasons Employees Can Take Leave|
|California (paid)||All employers, unless specifically excluded by the regulation.
Employees must have earned at least $300 from which State Disability Insurance (SDI) deductions were withheld during their base period.
|Up to 8 weeks of paid leave within a 12-month period for paid family leave. But up to 52 weeks of paid benefits for personal medical leave.||Caring for a seriously ill family member; bonding with a new child; participating in a qualifying event related to a family member’s military deployment.|
|California (unpaid)||Employers with 50 or more employees.
Employees must have at least 12 months of service and 1,250 hours of service in the last 12 months preceding the leave.
In addition to FMLA requirements, CFRA states that employers with 5 or more employees must also adhere to the state’s Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) policy.
|Up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. May be combined with up to 4 months of maternity leave, which equals a total of 28 weeks.||Bonding with a new child; caring for a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law with a serious health disability; emergencies that result from a family member on active military duty.|
|Colorado (paid) Enacted in 2020; starts in 2023, ‘24.||All employers, unless excluded.||Either up to 12 weeks of leave or 16 weeks of paid leave for those who experience pregnancy-related complications.||Bonding with a new child; caring for oneself or family with a serious illness; domestic abuse; assisting a family member on active duty.|
|Connecticut (paid)||All employers with 1 or more employee, unless specifically excluded.
Employees who have earned wages from the employer of at least $2,325 in the last 5 quarters.
|Either up to 12 weeks or up to 14 weeks of paid leave if there are serious complications resulting from a pregnancy.||Care for the birth of a child; care for an adopted child; care for a family member with a serious illness; personal health condition; address emergency situations relating to an active duty family member.|
|Connecticut (unpaid)||Most employers are required to provide unpaid leave time for qualifying conditions and circumstances.
Employees must have worked at least 3 months for their employer.
|Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in the case of serious illness or pregnancy. Different durations apply depending on the circumstance.||Pregnancy, family violence, military caregiver, serious health conditions.|
Enacted in 2022; effective 2025, ‘26.
|All employers, unless excluded.||Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.||Address personal health conditions; care for a family member with a serious health condition; care for a new child; address a family member’s military service.|
|District of Columbia (paid)||All employers, unless excluded.||Up to 2 weeks of paid leave for prenatal/pregnancy care. Up to 12 weeks in other circumstances.||Caring for yourself post-pregnancy; bonding with a new child; caring for a family member with a serious health condition; caring for one’s own serious health condition.|
|District of Columbia (unpaid)||Employers with 20 or more employees.
Employees must have at least 1,000 hours of service in the 12 months preceding the leave.
|Up to 16 weeks of family leave and up to 16 weeks of medical leave during a 24-month period.||Caring for individuals related to the employee by blood, legal custody, or marriage, or any person with whom the employee lives and has a committed relationship.|
|Hawaii (unpaid)||Employers with 100 or more employees.
Employees must have at least 6 consecutive months of service.
|Up to 4 weeks of unpaid leave per year.||Bonding with a new child; caring for family members with a serious health condition.|
|Maine (paid)||Employees must have worked for their employer for 12 consecutive months and must be employed at a work site with fewer than 15 employees.||Up to 10 weeks of medical leave every 2 years.||Serious health condition of the employee; birth or adoption of a child; caring for family with serious health conditions; organ donation or transplant; the death of a family member in the service.|
|Maine (unpaid)||Employers with 50 or more employees.
Employees must have worked with the employer for at least a year and for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months.
|Up to 12 weeks per year.||Incapacity related to pregnancy, prenatal care, or childbirth; caring for a new child; caring for certain family members with serious health conditions; to care for a serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing their job.|
Enacted in 2022; effective 2023, ‘25.
|All employers, unless excluded.||Up to 12 weeks in a rolling 12 months, with an additional 12 weeks possible if the employee is also eligible for parental leave or leave for a serious health condition.||Parental leave; family caregiving; service member caregiving; serious health conditions; certain family military-service-member emergencies.|
|Massachusetts (paid)||All employers, unless excluded.
Employees must have earned a (predetermined) minimum amount over the past 4 calendar quarters and must have earned at least 30 times the benefit amount they are eligible for.
|Depending on the reason for leave, eligible for up to 12 weeks, up to 20 weeks, or up to 26 weeks of paid leave.||Caring for the employee’s own serious health condition; caring for the serious health condition of certain family members; bonding with a child; caring for a family member in the service; managing affairs while a family member is deployed.|
|Massachusetts (unpaid)||Employers with at least 50 employees, or with at least 6 employees with regard to giving birth or placement of a child under the age of 18. If the child is disabled, the placement age is raised to 23.||Up to 24 hours of unpaid leave per year. This leave is restricted to participating in children’s educational activities or accompanying a child, spouse, or elderly relative to medical appointments, under Small Necessities Leave. Employees are also entitled to up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave to give birth or adopt a child.||Welcoming a new child; participating in a child’s educational development and health; caring for elderly family members.|
|Minnesota (unpaid)||Employers with 21 or more employees.
Employees who have worked for 12 months or longer at a minimum of half-time for 12+ months.
|Up to 6 weeks, up to 10 working days, or up to 40 hours of unpaid leave, depending on the reason for leave. Up to 12 weeks for pregnancy leave.||Birth or adoption of a child; sick, safety, and/or caretaker leave for self and certain family members with serious illness, injury, or health conditions.|
Enacted in 2021; effective in 2023.
|Participation is voluntary and offered via private insurance.||Employees can take up to 6 or 12 weeks of paid leave.||Caring for oneself; child bonding; serious health conditions of a family member; fulfilling a need in military service; caring for a service member.|
|New Jersey (paid)||All employers are already covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law.
Employees must have at least 20 weeks of service and have earned at least $260 a week for 2023, or the employee must have earned at least $13,000 in their base year. In 2022, the employee must have worked at least 20 weeks with an average weekly wage of $240 or having earned at least $12,000 in the base year.
|Up to 12 weeks of leave in any 12-month period, or if noncontinuous leave, up to 56 individual days or 8 weeks in a 12-month period. If the reason is personal medical, the employee may be granted up to 26 weeks.||Bonding with a newborn, newly adopted child, or newly placed foster child; providing for a family member with a serious health condition.|
|New Jersey (unpaid)||Employers with 50 or more employees.
To be eligible, employees must have at least 12 months of service and a minimum of 1,000 hours of service during those 12 months.
|Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 2-year period.||To bond with a new child or provide care for a seriously ill loved one.|
|New York (paid)||Employers with 1 or more employee, unless excluded.
Employees must have 26 or more consecutive weeks of service with at least 20 hours worked each week. Part-time employees who work fewer than 20 hours a week are eligible after 175 days.
|Up to 12 weeks of paid leave within a 52-week period.||Bond with a new child; care for a family member with a serious health condition; assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.|
|Oregon (paid) Enacted in 2019; effective in 2023.||All employers, unless excluded.||Up to 12 weeks or up to 14 weeks of paid leave, depending on the reason for leave.||Family leave, medical leave, and safety leave.|
|Oregon (unpaid)||Employers with at least 25 employees, and those employees must have at least 25 hours of service per week in the last 180 days.||Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.||Parental leave; serious health condition of self or a loved one; pregnancy disability; sick child; military family leave; death of a family member.|
|Rhode Island (paid)||Employers with 18 or more employees, according to the Sick and Safe Leave Act.||Full-time employees can earn up to 40 hours of paid time under the Sick and Safe Leave Act.
Additionally, up to 6 weeks in 2023 can be paid leave, or up to 30 weeks of paid leave, depending on the reason for leave, under TCI. Rhode Island also offers 1 week of paid leave for domestic violence reasons.
|Child, parent, spouse, grandparent, parent-in-law, or domestic partner.|
|Rhode Island (unpaid)||Employers with 17 or fewer employees, according to the Sick and Safe Leave Act.
Additionally, employers with 50 or more employees must provide unpaid leave under the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act.
|Under the Sick and Safe Leave Act, employers with 17 or fewer employees must provide leave, but it does not have to be paid.
Up to 13 weeks of unpaid leave in a 2-year period.
|Child, parent, spouse, or parent-in-law.|
|Vermont (unpaid)||Employers with 10 or more employees, or employers with 15 or more employees who work an average of 30 hours a week, depending on the reason for leave.||Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 1-year period. An additional 24 hours to tend to routine or emergency medical needs or to participate in children’s educational activities.||Child, parent, spouse, or parent-in-law.|
|Washington (paid)||All employers, unless excluded.||Up to 12 or 16 weeks of paid leave.||Child, parent, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or anyone who the employee is expected to care for at home, including dependents.|
|Wisconsin (unpaid)||Employers with at least 50 permanent employees must comply, and those employees must have at least 52 consecutive weeks of service and have at least 1,000 hours of service during that time.||Up to 2 weeks or up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave, depending on the reason for leave.||Self, child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or parent-in-law.|
Keep checking the laws in your state
Be sure to consult the laws in your state regarding paid sick leave to care for yourself or an ill family member. The specifics of state paid sick leave laws vary, including:
- Who is covered.
- Eligible reasons for taking leave.
- Length of the eligible leave.
It’s also important to know how to handle the federal FMLA and state family and medical leave when both apply to an individual employee’s situation. Typically, the state leave is calculated concurrently with the federal FMLA leave. But you’ll still need to check your state’s law for specifics. Some offer access to temporary disability insurance. Some may offer additional coverage pertaining to such things as:
- Paid parental leave, including adoption or foster care or placing a child for adoption.
- Care for a family member with a serious health condition.
The situations listed above may not be the only crises that are covered. States may also allow expanded and/or compensated leaves of absence related to:
- Domestic violence and crime leave.
- Living organ donor leave.
- Jury duty leave.
- Additional events addressed by paid sick leave laws.
Is your state hopping on the FML train?
When you consider that so many states are hopping on the family and medical leave train, it’s easy to realize things can change rapidly. Even if your state currently doesn’t have family and medical leave laws, that may only be temporary. For this reason, employers, workers, and HR professionals should keep abreast of state policies. The only way to verify eligibility and coverage is to carefully examine your state’s laws.
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