Rhode Island Becomes the Third State to Guarantee Paid Family Leave

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

"Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee made history today by making Rhode Island the third state ever to guarantee workers paid time off when new children arrive and family members need care. By signing this bill into law, the governor has secured Rhode Island’s position as a true leader in promoting families’ well-being and economic stability.

As we have seen in the two states with similar programs, California and New Jersey, and through worker and employer experiences, paid leave policies are good for working families, businesses and local economies. Soon, Rhode Island and its working families will reap the benefits of this strong and comprehensive bill, which will go into effect in 2014.

Rhode Island’s program will expand the state’s temporary disability insurance program to include temporary caregiver insurance, providing up to four weeks of wage replacement to workers who take time off to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, grandparent, parent-in-law or domestic partner, or to bond with a new child. It will protect workers' jobs and ensure their health benefits are in place during periods of leave.

With this victory, Rhode Island lawmakers, advocates and workers have shown that progress is possible, and that efforts to support the development of state-based paid leave proposals — such as the state paid leave fund the Senate Appropriations Committee passed today — are more important than ever. As more states increase access to paid leave, the case for a national paid leave program will become that much stronger. Congress should take note."

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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