Many people need to take leave at some point during their careers for personal or medical reasons or to provide care to a family member. According to a study from Brandeis University, the average worker will forgo a quarter of their family’s yearly income if they need to take unpaid leave from work. Despite this, there is currently no federal obligation for employers to provide their workers with paid family or medical leave. However, there are laws in place in some states that require paid family leave for employees in 2022.
Taking unpaid or partially paid leave from work means that families may not be able to afford necessities, including health insurance. If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to health insurance while on leave, Mira might be a great fit for you. For just $45 per month, members get access to low-cost urgent care visits, affordable lab testing, and discounted prescriptions at up to 80% off. Sign up today and start saving on healthcare today.
Federal Paid Family Leave - The Family and Medical Leave Act
In 2020, there was a federal mandate for some employers to provide paid family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. While this act continued into 2021, it was no longer a mandate, but rather, businesses could choose to provide paid family leave and receive a tax credit for doing so.
In 2022, there is no federally mandated paid family leave. There is a country-wide law, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides employees with unpaid leave if they need to take care of a family member or if they become sick themselves.
However, this act only applies to certain types of employees and to specific situations, such as the birth or adoption of a child, taking care of a spouse, parent or child, or personal illness. Some of the eligibility criteria to qualify for the FMLA include:
- The employee must have worked for the employer for more than 12 months.
- The employee must have worked over 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding their leave.
- If it is a private sector business, the employer must have more than 50 employees. This does not apply to public sector agencies or schools (both public and private).
While there is currently a lack of federally-mandated paid family leave, the concept is very popular, with 69% of voters reporting that they feel paid family leave would have put the country into a better position before the pandemic.
Paid family leave was a component of President Biden's Build Back Better bill. Still, it is currently unclear whether this bill will become law at any point in the foreseeable future.
State Paid Family Leave
There are currently seven states with government-mandated paid family leave. These states include California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington. The District of Columbia also has its own paid family leave laws. In addition, Oregon and Colorado recently signed bills that will mandate paid family leave and will implement their policies in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
The percentage of the employees’ covered wages and time allotted for paid family leave varies from state to state. Generally the states mandate a fixed percentage of wages to be covered: however, in some states, workers on leave receive coverage based on a sliding scale. The sliding scale generally requires that additional earnings above the state’s average weekly wage are paid out at a different rate than earnings below this value.
The table below summarizes the percentage of an individual’s salary that employees receive while on leave. Most states that offer paid family leave have an online application and calculator that can be used to determine how much you will be paid while on family leave.
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Paid Leave Salary Requirements - State by State
Percentage of Income
|California||60% average weekly wage (70% to those considered “low wage”)||No|
95% up to $520/week
60% of additional income over $520/week
|District of Columbia|
90% of 1.5 times city minimum wage ($930 in 2022)
50% of employee’s average weekly wage minus $930
80% up to 50% average weekly wage ($1,694.24 in 2022)
50% additional income over average weekly wage
|New Jersey||85% average weekly wage||No|
|New York||67% average weekly wage||No|
|Rhode Island||60% average weekly wage||No|
90% up to 50% average weekly wage ($1,475 in 2022)
50% additional income over average weekly wage
When Oregon and Colorado implement paid family leave, they both plan on providing 90% of the average weekly wage, plus additional pay based on a sliding scale.
The following graph shows the amount of weekly paid leave compared to the employee’s usual weekly pay for each state with paid family leave laws. (Source: newamerica.org)
Eligible Reasons to Take Family Leave and Amount of Leave
There are various reasons and circumstances in which an employee may be eligible for family leave (paid or unpaid). Each state also has its own rules about how much leave should be given. These details will vary based on whether the law is dictated by the specific state’s laws or based on the FMLA.
The table below outlines reasons for leave and the amount of leave permitted by each state that offers paid family leave in 2022.
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Reasons for Leave and Amount of Leave - State by State
Reasons for Leave
Amount of Leave
**If 2 spouses work for the same employer, they can only take 12 weeks combined
|District of Columbia|
**No more than 8 weeks/year total for all types of leave combined
**No more than 26 weeks/year total for all types of leave combined
**No more than 30 total weeks/year for family plus personal leave
**No more than 16 weeks/year total for family plus personal leave (18 if pregnancy-related)
*Severe illness refers to any condition requiring inpatient care, incapacity for more than 3 days with continuous treatment, incapacity related to pregnancy, chronic serious health conditions, permanent or long-term incapacity or conditions requiring multiple treatments.
Insurance While on Paid and Unpaid Family Leave
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees who receive group health insurance from their employer are still entitled to that insurance while on leave. The act states that in settings where paid leave is substituted for FMLA leave (for example in the states which have locally-mandated paid family leave), group health insurance must continue to be covered if this was being provided prior to the leave period.
Additionally, family member coverage must continue to be provided. However, in all cases, the employee must continue to make contributions to their health insurance premiums, or risk losing their health insurance coverage.
Even in states with paid family leave laws, people taking such leave are likely being paid less than their usual salary. As the graphic above shows, families have continued expenses, even while on leave. This means that, in many cases, they may be less able to afford their normal expenses, including health insurance contributions.
If you’re considering taking leave but are worried about affording healthcare during this time, Mira might be a good alternative. For just $45 per month and no deductible, Mira offers exclusive health benefits, including affordable urgent care visits, low-cost lab testing, and discounted prescriptions. Sign up today to get started.
Currently, there is no federally-mandated paid family leave in the US. However, many states do offer paid family leave, and more are planning on adding paid family leave laws in the near future.
Despite this, many people (even those living in states with paid family leave laws) will suffer financially during their leave period and may have trouble paying for costly health insurance. If you think you might need to take family leave in 2022, it’s a good idea to consider alternatives to traditional health insurance such as Mira.
Dvora is a recent medical graduate and current MPH student who is passionate about women’s health and health equity. She hopes to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology and is excited to join the Mira team in empowering people through healthcare. In her spare time she enjoys exercise, reading and spending time with her family and her dog, Dash.