New Labor Department Grants Reflect ‘A Powerful and Impressive Commitment’ by the Obama Administration to Advancing Paid Leave, Women’s Leader Says

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“At a time when public demand for paid family and medical leave has never been higher, we commend the Obama administration for the $1.1 million in one-time, competitive grants awarded today to support six jurisdictions – Hawaii; Indiana; Pennsylvania; Denver and Denver County, Colo.; Franklin County, Ohio; and Madison, Wis. – in identifying the best ways to develop and implement paid leave programs. These new federal grants will build upon the multi-year investment this administration has made to increase access to paid leave, foster strong state and local programs and, ultimately, help advance a national paid leave standard and a truly family friendly America.

With today’s announcement, the administration has made available through the U.S. Department of Labor a total of $3.15 million for the development and implementation of state and local paid family and medical leave programs. Similar grants were awarded in 2014 and 2015. The funding further demonstrates a powerful and impressive commitment to helping workers, families, businesses and our economy by bringing us closer to the day when fewer workers have to choose between job and family when serious illnesses strike or injuries happen, or when a new child arrives.

We strongly commend the state and local leaders who applied for these grants. Just 13 percent of workers in this country currently have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have access to paid medical leave through employer-provided short-term disability insurance. Only California, New Jersey and Rhode Island have paid family leave programs in place. This year, New York adopted a paid family leave program that will be phased in beginning in 2018. And a number of jurisdictions have created paid leave policies that apply to municipal employees.

The funding announced today will continue the tremendous momentum around paid leave and make a significant difference. States are innovators on paid leave and are proving every day that it strengthens families, communities, businesses and our economy. We fully expect that these grants will add to that growing body of evidence. At the same time, our country continues to suffer without a national paid leave program. We urge leaders in Congress to pass the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, so all workers will have access to paid family and medical leave, no matter where they live or what job they hold.”

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 women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. Based in Washington, D.C., the organization drafted and led the fight to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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