Workers in some states are paid while taking family leave

Though employees in Wisconsin can take family leave after a childbirth or adoption, the leave is usually unpaid. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, full-time employees of employers subject to the federal law can take 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year for medical or family reasons. Now, some states are enacting their own family leave laws that allow employees to receive compensation for some of the wages they miss out on during a period of family leave.

Starting in 2018, employees in New York will be eligible to receive 50 percent of their average weekly wages during the first eight weeks of family leave. The law will be updated in 2021 to cover all 12 weeks of FMLA leave and 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly income.

Before the paid family leave law was passed in New York, three other states had already enacted similar laws. New Jersey, Rhode Island and California all have paid family leave programs that are controlled by the states’ disability insurance programs. California is set to increase its paid family leave in 2018 to 70 percent of an employee’s average weekly wages. All of the state-run paid family leave programs are funded through payroll deductions.

Though employees may not be eligible for wage reimbursement during family leave, they can still receive the same medical benefits that they had while they were working. Those who are taking family or medical leave is also entitled to return to the same job position or an equivalent job position once the leave ends. An employee who is fired or demoted after taking FMLA leave may want to speak to an attorney about filing a discrimination claim.


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