What’s Ahead for Paid Family and Medical Leave in 2022?

Blog Post
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya from Pexels
Dec. 17, 2021

According to the most recent news reports, we won’t know until 2022 the fate of the Build Back Better Act, which includes a first-ever comprehensive national approach to guaranteeing paid family and medical leave for all. With work, hope and pressure, 2022 could become the year the U.S. passes paid leave for all working people, making four weeks available in 2024.

Source: New America + Paid Leave for the U.S.

Paid leave would help working people afford housing, food, gas and other basic expenses when a child arrives or when a personal or family care need requires time away from work.

Paid leave would also boost women’s and caregiver’s labor force attachment and increase their earnings; improve workers’ ability to provide and receive care and improve health outcomes; help small businesses to attract and retain workers and be competitive; and boost U.S. GDP.

While we await progress at the federal level, state paid leave progress is certain. To help policymakers, journalists and advocates understand the state paid leave landscape, we’ve updated our two “explainer” briefs with details about paid leave benefits, funding and coverage as of January 1, 2022:

And here is paid leave progress the United States will see in 2022, with links to local coalitions that are leading new campaigns and expansion efforts.

On January 1, 2022:

  • Connecticut - Workers with a qualifying family or medical need will be able to receive paid family and medical leave benefits from the state’s new program for up to 12 weeks (or up to 14 weeks, for people with pregnancy complications). In fact, Connecticut workers who have an upcoming need for paid leave can apply now through Connecticut’s portal!
  • Rhode Island - Working parents of newborns, newly adopted and newly placed foster children, and working people who need to take leave from their jobs to care for a child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, spouse, or domestic partner will have five weeks of paid family leave - a one-week increase from the four weeks of paid family leave available since the program benefit’s start in 2014; Rhode Island’s leave duration will increase again in 2023, expanding to six weeks.

In addition:

  • The states of Massachusetts and Washington will celebrate their respective first and second year anniversaries of guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, and New York will begin its fifth year of offering paid family leave benefits. These state programs have served tens of thousands of workers during a critical time for public health and family care.
  • California’s paid leave program will celebrate the first anniversary of military family qualifying exigency leave and the first anniversary of expanded job protections under the California Family Rights Act, and will mark a one-year extension of increased wage replacement rates that improved on the program’s original rates. In 2022, the California Work and Family Coalition will work to expand the program with better and permanent higher wage replacement, more paid leave time and the right to care for chosen family.
  • New Jersey will begin its first full year of a program more responsive to the state’s needs, with higher wage replacement and longer leave durations that took effect in July 2021.
  • The District of Columbia enters the new year with a recently implemented (beginning Oct. 1, 2021) temporary expansion of personal medical leave from two weeks to six weeks and a new two-week allotment for prenatal care. Advocates with the D.C. Paid Leave campaign will seek to extend this program permanently in 2022.

And throughout the year:

  • Oregon will prepare to implement its paid leave program in 2023. Oregon’s paid leave implementing agency is working on program regulations and will begin collecting paid leave premiums on January 1, 2023, for a September 1, 2023 benefit start.
  • Colorado will also continue its regulatory process, with an expected contribution start of January 1, 2023 and an anticipated start of benefits on January 1, 2024.
  • Delaware lawmakers, advocates and businesses will fight to make the First State the 10th state to adopt paid family and medical leave. Follow the work of the Delaware Cares coalition for updates or engagement.
  • Maine has a legislative commission that is currently considering paid family and medical leave, where working people recently testified, and lawmakers and advocates in Maryland are pursuing statewide paid family and medical leave programs, as well. Follow the work of the Maine Family Leave and Time to Care Maryland for the latest news or to get involved.
Source: Sophia Cai, Alayna Treene. "Democrats draw up plan B for paid leave after Manchin veto." Axios. Nov. 19, 2021.

If a federal program is not enacted in Build Back Better, advocates will evaluate new legislative and ballot pathways to enacting state paid family and medical leave programs that build on the successes and lessons of the nine existing state programs.

In solidarity with the work-family justice movement, working people and larger and smaller business allies across the country, we expect 2022 will bring progress toward paid leave for all.

Happy holidays and happy new year!