TO: Interested Media | FROM: Alex Nseir, Campaign Communications Specialist, 202-986-2600
As many prepare to spend time with family and loved ones for the holidays, the National Partnership reviewed key measures that will take effect in the coming year that enable workers to take time to care for themselves and their loved ones. In a year when federal policy victories for women and working families were sparse — and attacks on women, immigrant families, communities of color and basic rights were pervasive — cities and states led the way with local progress. In 2018, communities across the country adopted new, pro-women, pro-family workplace policies, including those guaranteeing paid family and medical leave and paid sick days.
These common-sense measures help to promote health, gender and racial equity, and economic security. Highlights include Massachusetts’ strong statewide paid family and medical leave program, which will be implemented over the next two years, as well as new statewide paid sick days laws in Maryland and New Jersey, both of which took effect in 2018. Paid family and medical leave and paid sick days were also key issues in competitive midterm election races, and candidates who featured these issues in their platforms often won.
However, we also saw end-runs around worker protections in Michigan and Austin, Texas; where progressive efforts to adopt paid sick time laws were thwarted by corporate lobbyists and lawmakers who stand in the way of working families.
“This year, working people, voters and state and local legislators around the country fought for and secured policies that will strengthen the health and economic security of women and families,” said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. “It’s past time for federal lawmakers to take action that reflects the will of voters, who overwhelmingly support worker friendly policies. As we celebrate state and local progress, we urge new leaders in Congress to prioritize an agenda that includes national paid family and medical leave and a national paid sick days standard. We also warn lawmakers who roll back hard-fought workers’ rights that we will be watching and we will not be silent.”
Family friendly workplace laws that will take effect in 2019 in:
- California: On Jan. 1, 2019, a law providing paid parental leave to school and community college employees will take effect. The law was enacted on Sept. 30, 2018.
- Delaware: On April 1, 2019, a law providing paid parental leave to certain employees of the state will take effect. The law was enacted on June 30, 2018.
- Massachusetts: On July 1, 2019, the state will begin collecting contributions for the paid family and medical leave program — the country’s seventh law of its kind (details here). The law was enacted on June 28, 2018.
- Westchester County, N.Y.: On April 10, 2019, a countywide paid sick days law will take effect (details here); the law was enacted on Oct. 12, 2018.
- San Antonio, Texas: On Aug. 1, 2019, a paid sick days law will take effect for larger businesses (details here). The law was enacted on Aug. 16, 2018. When the Texas legislature convenes in January, we will watch for — and speak out against — preemption legislation that strips control from localities and takes away San Antonio workers’ right to earn paid sick time.
- Washington: On Jan. 1, 2019, the state will begin collecting contributions for the paid family and medical leave program — the country’s sixth law of its kind (details here). The law was enacted on July 5, 2017.
State and local victories for women and families in 2018:
- Maryland: On Feb. 11, 2018, a paid sick days law took effect. It is the ninth statewide law of its kind (details here). The law was enacted despite Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto on Jan. 12, 2018. On Oct. 1, 2018, a law providing paid parental leave to certain employees of the state took effect. The law was initially enacted on May 15, 2018.
- Duluth, Minn.: On Jan. 1, 2020, a paid sick days law will take effect (details here). The law was enacted on May 29, 2018.
- New Jersey: On Oct. 29, 2018, a paid sick days law — the 10th statewide law of its kind — took effect (details here). The law was enacted on May 2, 2018.
- Austin, Texas: Lawmakers approved a paid sick days law on Feb. 16, 2018. The measure was scheduled to take effect for larger businesses on Oct. 1, 2018, but is currently on hold pending litigation challenging the law.
- Virginia: On June 25, 2018, the governor of Virginia signed an executive order providing paid parental leave to certain employees of the state; the law took effect upon signing.
When all of these new state and local laws take effect, working people and their families in 10 states, the District of Columbia and 21 other jurisdictions will have access to paid sick days. Workers in six states and the District of Columbia will have access to paid family and medical leave; more than 70 localities will guarantee city or county workers paid parental or family leave; and 23 states and five other jurisdictions will have pregnancy accommodation laws to protect pregnant workers.
Despite these very significant advances, most workers in the country are not guaranteed these workplace protections. And in 2018 we saw the rollback of a strong paid sick days law in Michigan (details here), litigation to stop paid sick days in Austin, Texas, and legislation in the United States House of Representatives that would have undermined the dozens of state and local paid sick days laws that advocates and lawmakers have won across the country (details here).
Nationally, 29 percent of private sector workers — more than 34 million people — cannot earn a single paid sick day. Just 17 percent of all workers have access to paid family leave through their employers, and only 39 percent have paid personal medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability insurance program. Workers who are paid lower wages are even less likely than others to have access to any type of leave. A recent national survey commissioned by the National Partnership for Women & Families also found that eight in 10 voters support a comprehensive national paid family and medical leave program.
“The country needs stronger standards that set baselines for everyone, no matter where they live or work or the job they hold,” Ness said. “Strong paid leave policies helps to promote racial equity and responds to the growing needs of working people caring for older adults and the aging workforce. Women, families, businesses and the economy in every state would benefit from a national paid leave plan.”
In 2018, the National Partnership participated in the first-ever U.S. Senate Finance subcommittee hearing on the need for national paid family and medical leave convened by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R.-La.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and will work in coalition on these issues in Congress when the 116th Congress convenes.
To talk to one of our policy experts, contact Alex Nseir at firstname.lastname@example.org (or 202-986-2600).
About the National Partnership
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.