National Partnership for Women & Families

Family Friendly Workplace Laws Taking Effect in Early 2016

Memo to Interested Media
December 23, 2015 —

TO: Interested Media | FROM: Sadie Kliner, Deputy Communications Director, 202-986-2600

RE: Family Friendly Workplace Laws Taking Effect in Early 2016

Working families across the country celebrated several new family friendly workplace policies at the state and local levels in 2015. Many of them will take effect in early 2016, increasing access to paid sick days, paid family leave, fair pay, and protections for pregnant workers.

As National Partnership President Debra L. Ness said, “2015 was a year filled with tremendous victories for America’s working families. We expect the progress to continue, but our nation still has a long way to go to ensure that hardworking people aren’t left struggling when illness strikes or new children arrive, or because we have failed to eradicate pay and pregnancy discrimination. In 2016, the country is counting on Congress and state and local lawmakers to pass laws working families need. Doing so will strengthen our economy, our families and our country.”

Family friendly workplace laws will take effect in the following jurisdictions in early 2016:

  • California. On January 1, 2016, three laws will take effect that will enable teachers to receive some pay when taking parental leave, expand workers’ ability to take leave to participate in a child’s school activities, and strengthen equal pay protections.
  • Kansas City, Mo. On May 1, 2016, a measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for municipal employees will take effect.
  • Montgomery County, Md. On October 1, 2016, a countywide paid sick days law will take effect (details here).
  • Two cities in New Jersey. On January 6, 2016, a citywide paid sick days law will take effect in New Brunswick. And on March 2, 2016, a citywide paid sick days law will take effect in Elizabeth; the measure was approved by 84 percent of voters on November 3, 2015. Details on both laws can be found here.
  • New York and New York City. On January 19, 2016, two state laws will take effect that will strengthen equal pay protections and guarantee pregnant workers reasonable on-the-job accommodations when they need them (details here). On January 1, 2016, a measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for many municipal employees in New York City will take effect.
  • Oregon. On January 1, 2016, a paid sick days law – the fourth statewide law of its kind – will take effect (details here), as will a law requiring employers to allow employees to use accrued sick time to address certain situations related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking. On the same day, a law strengthening equal pay protections will also take effect.
  • Two cities in Washington. On February 1, 2016, a citywide paid sick days law will take effect in Tacoma (details here). On January 1, 2016, a measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for municipal employees will take effect in King County.

Other 2015 victories for working families were secured in:

  • Atlanta, Ga. A measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for municipal employees was enacted on June 24, 2015, and took effect on July 1, 2015.
  • California and two cities in the state. A paid sick days law, which was the second statewide law of its kind, began to take effect on January 1, 2015, and workers started to earn paid sick days under the law on July 1, 2015. Citywide paid sick days laws that guarantee workers the right to earn more paid sick days than provided under the new state law also took effect in Oakland on March 2, 2015, and in Emeryville on July 2, 2015. Details on the three laws can be found here.
  • Dayton, Ohio. A measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for municipal employees was enacted on August 26, 2015, and took effect immediately.
  • Delaware. A law requiring employers to allow employees to use any leave they have accrued to address issues related to domestic abuse, a sexual offense or stalking was enacted on June 30, 2015, and took effect immediately.
  • District of Columbia. A law guaranteeing pregnant workers in the District reasonable on-the-job accommodations when they need them took effect on March 3, 2015 (details here).
  • Hopkinton, N.H. A measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for town employees was adopted on February 11, 2015, and took effect immediately.
  • Illinois. A law guaranteeing pregnant workers in the state reasonable on-the-job accommodations when they need them took effect on January 1, 2015 (details here).
  • Maryland. A law strengthening protections for workers who take leave to care for an immediate family member with an illness was enacted on May 30, 2015, and took effect on October 1, 2015.
  • Massachusetts and one city in the state. A paid sick days law – the third statewide law of its kind – took effect on July 1, 2015 (details here). A measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for municipal employees in Boston was enacted on May 18, 2015, and took effect immediately.
  • Three jurisdictions in Minnesota. The city of Saint Paul adopted a paid parental leave policy for municipal employees in 2014 that took effect on January 1, 2015. A measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for municipal employees in Minneapolis was adopted on May 1, 2015, and took effect retroactively from January 1, 2015. A countywide measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for Hennepin County employees was enacted March 17, 2015, and took effect on May 1, 2015.
  • Multnomah County, Ore. A measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for county employees was enacted on October 8, 2015, and took effect on November 1, 2015.
  • Nebraska. A law guaranteeing pregnant workers in the state reasonable on-the-job accommodations when they need them was enacted on April 13, 2015, and took effect on August 30, 2015 (details here).
  • Eight cities in New Jersey. A law expanding the citywide paid sick days law in Jersey City will take effect on December 29, 2015. Citywide paid sick days laws took effect in Passaic on January 1, 2015; in East Orange on January 7, 2015; in Paterson on January 9, 2015; in Irvington on January 28, 2015; in Montclair on March 4, 2015; and in Trenton on July 3, 2015. A citywide paid sick days law in Bloomfield was enacted on March 2, 2015, and took effect on July 1, 2015. Details on all of these laws can be found here.
  • North Dakota. A law strengthening equal pay protections was enacted on March 19, 2015, and took effect on August 1, 2015. A law guaranteeing pregnant workers in the state reasonable on-the-job accommodations when they need them was enacted on April 6, 2015, and took effect on August 1, 2015 (details here).
  • Three jurisdictions in Pennsylvania. A citywide paid sick days law in Philadelphia was enacted on February 12, 2015, and took effect on May 13, 2015 (details here). The Pittsburgh City Council adopted a paid sick days law on August 3, 2015 (details here), but it was subsequently challenged in court and struck down on December 21, 2015. A countywide measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for Allegheny County employees was adopted on February 24, 2015, and took effect immediately.
  • Rhode Island. A law guaranteeing pregnant workers in the state reasonable on-the-job accommodations when they need them was enacted on June 25, 2015, and took effect immediately (details here).
  • St. Petersburg, Fla. A measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for municipal employees took effect on January 1, 2015.
  • Seattle, Wash. A measure guaranteeing paid parental leave for municipal employees took effect on May 17, 2015.

When all of the 2016 laws are implemented, the country will have four states, one county and 21 cities with paid sick days laws; three states with paid family leave laws and five states that provide paid personal medical leave through temporary disability insurance laws; at least 25 localities that guarantee city or county workers paid family leave; and 16 states and five other jurisdictions with pregnancy accommodation laws. However, despite these very significant advances, the majority of workers in the country are not guaranteed these workplace protections.

Nationally, more than four in 10 private sector workers can’t earn paid sick days. Just 13 percent of workers have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have paid personal medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability insurance program. The gender-based wage gap persists. And many pregnant women are fired or forced off their jobs when they need minor accommodations to continue working.

“State and local progress and the unprecedented private sector advances we saw this year make a big difference for workers and communities, but a patchwork of policies is not nearly enough,” Ness said. “The country needs national standards that protect and level the playing field for all workers and businesses. That’s why it’s time for Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act so all workers can earn paid sick days, the national paid family and medical leave insurance program the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act would create, and clear protections against pay and pregnancy discrimination like those included in the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.”

Earlier this month, the National Partnership published a graphic summarizing the various factors that have come together to put a federal paid family and medical leave program on the national agenda. It is available at NationalPartnership.org/Horizon.

To talk to one of our policy experts, please contact me at 202-986-2600 or skliner@nationalpartnership.org. For additional information, explore the National Partnership’s family friendly workplace policy database at NationalPartnership.org/WFDB.

Contact

Sadie Kliner (202) 986-2600 skliner@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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