The Definitive List of State Family and Medical Leave Programs

Conceptually, state family and medical leave is similar to the federal FMLA. The difference is that it is administered at the state level, which means the rules vary in some way.

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The Definitive List of State Family and Medical Leave Programs

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.

You’re likely no stranger to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — which requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees. You also likely know that there are some states that have their own family and medical leave programs. Do you know what those programs provide?

Is state family and medical leave the same as federal FMLA?

Before we get into state-specific information, let’s cover the basics of the federal FMLA.

In some cases, federal and state protections are the same. As a baseline, all states must minimally 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 leave

Conceptually, state family and medical leave is similar to the federal 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 paid, unpaid, or both.

That means that some states offer expanded job protection for family and medical leave, while others elect to adopt the federal FMLA’s job protection standards.

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 you keep tabs on state family and medical leave programs, especially since the list is growing. If a state hasn’t yet enacted family and medical leave statutes, they probably intend to or have considered it.

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, “Most states at this point have adopted or considered paid family leave.” Additionally, most states with paid family and medical leave programs are funded at least partially by employee contributions, which are made via payroll deduction.

Which jurisdictions have family and medical leave programs?

As of this writing, these are the jurisdictions with formalized legislation on their books:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Some states provide paid and unpaid leave depending on employer and employee eligibility.

Leave information by state

To provide more details, below we have provided state-specific provisions.

State Coverage Duration Employees Can Take Leave to Care For 
California (paid) All employers, unless specifically excluded by the regulation. Employees must have earned at least $300 in the previous 12 months. Up to 8 weeks of paid leave. Child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner.
California (unpaid) Employers with 5 or more employees. Employees must have at least 12 months of service plus 1,250 hours of service in the last 12 months preceding the leave. 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. Child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law.
Colorado (paid). Starts in 2023. All employers, unless excluded. Either up to 12 weeks or up to 16 weeks of paid leave, depending on the reason for leave. Child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, in-laws, or any person with whom the employee has a significant bond.
Connecticut (paid) All employers, unless excluded. Either up to 12 weeks or up to 14 weeks of paid leave, depending on the reason for leave. Child, parent, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, parent-in-law, or anyone who has a close family-like relationship with the employee.
Connecticut (unpaid) Most employers with 75 or more employees. Employees must have at least 1,000 hours of service during the 12 months preceding the leave. Up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave in a 2-year period. Child, parent, spouse, parent-in-law, step-parent, or civil union partner.
District of Columbia (paid) All employers, unless excluded. Depending on the reason for leave, may be eligible for up to 2 weeks, up to 6 weeks, or up to 8 weeks of paid leave. Child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or grandparent.
District of Columbia (unpaid) Employers with 20 or more employees. Employees must have at least 1,000 hours of service in the 12-month preceding the leave. Up to 16 weeks of family leave and up to 16 weeks of medical leave during a 24-month period. Individuals related to the employee by blood, legal custody, or marriage, plus 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. Child, parent, spouse, grandparents, in-laws, step-parent, or reciprocal beneficiary.
Maine (unpaid) Employers with 15 or more employees. Up to 10 weeks in a 2-year period. Child, parent, spouse, sibling who resides with the employee, non-dependent adult child, civil union partner, or child of a civil union partner.
Massachusetts (paid) All employers, unless excluded. Depending on the reason for leave, eligible for up to 12 weeks, up to 20 weeks, or up to 26 weeks of paid leave. Child, parent, spouse, parent-in-law, domestic partner, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild.
Massachusetts (unpaid) Employers with at least 50 employees. 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. Child, spouse, or elderly relative.
Minnesota (unpaid) Employers with 21 or more employees. Up to 6 weeks, up to 10 working days, or up to 40 hours of unpaid leave, depending on the reason for leave. Child, parent, spouse, sibling, or grandparent.
New Jersey (paid) All employers are already covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law. Employees must have at least 20 weeks of service or must have earned at least $1,000 times the state minimum wage during the 52 weeks preceding the leave. Up to 6 weeks of paid leave. Child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, or grandparent.
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, but not more than 6 weeks in a 1-year period. Child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or in-laws.
New York (paid) Employers with 1 or more employees. Employees must have 26 or more consecutive weeks of service. Duration phased out. As of 2021, up to 12 weeks of paid leave within a 52-week period. Child, parent, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, step-parent, domestic partner, or anyone with whom the employee shares an “in loco parents relationship.”
Oregon (paid). Starts in 2023. All employers, unless excluded. Up to 12 weeks or up to 14 weeks of paid leave, depending on the reason for leave. Child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or in-laws.
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. Child, parent, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, or person with whom the employee shares an “in loco parents relationship.”
Rhode Island (paid) All employers must comply unless excluded by the regulation. Up to 4 weeks or up to 30 weeks of paid leave, depending on the reason for leave. Child, parent, spouse, grandparent, parent-in-law, or domestic partner.
Rhode Island (unpaid) Employers with 50 or more employees. 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, depending on the reason for leave. Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 1-year period. An additional 24 hours to attend 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 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. 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.

The contents of state family and medical 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.

Typically, the state leave is calculated concurrently with the federal FMLA leave, but check state law for specifics.

The state may offer an extensive line of protections, as well. So, in addition to the reasons provided in the FMLA, states may also offer coverage for the following situations:

  • Childbirth
  • Adoption
  • Caring for one’s own medical condition or a family member’s

These situations that have been listed above may not be the only crises that are covered. States may also allow leaves for reasons pertaining to:

  • Domestic violence
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Sexual assault
  • Organ donor

Therefore, potential additional coverage situations are yet another reason to carefully examine your state’s law.

Is your state hopping on the FMLA train?

When you consider that so many states are hopping on the family and medical leave train, it’s reasonable to think that things can change in a jiffy. Even if your state currently doesn’t have family and medical leave laws, that might be temporary. With that in mind, keep an eye out for new developments.

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