Pennsylvania –Pennsylvania will receive a $250,000 federal grant to facilitate planning a paid family leave program to enable more Pennsylvania workers to have access to paid time off to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member. The United States is the only industrialized nation that grants zero weeks of paid leave.
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, which exempts companies with fewer than 50 paid employees, American workers are offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying medical and family reasons. Sixty percent of the workforce qualifies for unpaid leave under the FMLA. Only 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, according to the Department of Labor.
“Workers need paid leave in Pennsylvania, where all too often working families are penalized by outdated policies,” says Terry L. Fromson, Managing Attorney at the Women’s Law Project. “Some of Pennsylvania’s policies are so outdated that in reality, they push women out of the workforce. For example, we know women currently have no access to paid leave when a child is born, so they often have to go right back to work within weeks or even days of childbirth. But once back at work, they aren’t always assured time and space to express milk, or even equal pay.”
With this grant, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to study family leave models, analyze who will benefit from paid family leave, and study state administrative infrastructure. A stakeholder advisory group (including members of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces) will be convened.
“We applaud the Department of Labor for selecting Pennsylvania to receive a federal grant that brings us closer to the day when no Pennsylvanian has to choose between the treatment they need and keeping a roof over their family’s heads,” Marianne Bellesorte, Vice President of Advocacy at PathWays PA, said in a statement. “During their working years, most Pennsylvanians will need time to care for a new baby, an aging parent, or themselves, and, thanks to this grant, we are one step closer to ensuring they have the time they need.”
We thank the Wolf Administration for seeking out this opportunity to improve the lives of working Pennsylvanians. Currently four states, including New Jersey and New York, have state-level paid leave laws in place.
The Women’s Law Project is a proud member of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces. Formed in 2009, the Coalition works to support paid leave issues throughout Pennsylvania.
The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.