Family Values @ Work

Picture it: Paid Leave, the Movie

Picture it: Paid Leave, the Movie

June 27, 2017

A scrappy band of workers, business owners, health care professionals, community groups, union members and legislators come together to pass a law so that all workers can earn time to care for themselves and their family members. This movie has everything:

  • Touching stories from workers who lost their jobs for being good family members, and from children in hospitals without their parents.
  • A battle between supportive business owners and those who see workers as expendable.
  • Politicians remembering why they got into this business in the first place.

And, at the end, a bill signing, with everyone crowded around a desk. Cue the big smiles, uplifting music, and the end credits.

Except… that’s not really the end. Whether everyone in the movie realizes it or not, it’s just the beginning.

Imagine our movie was set in California, where the country’s first paid family leave law was passed. That signing ceremony took place in September 2002 – over a year before the law actually took effect on July 1, 2004.

Even if we added the July 1st date to our production, our movie would miss years of organizing, education, and implementation around the law – work that continues to this day..

This July 1st, we’ll celebrate the 13th anniversary of California’s paid family leave law. Many workers have earned time to care for themselves and their seriously ill family members – with pay – because of the work done in California. Since the California law passed, both NJ and RI have implemented paid family leave, two other states have passed it, and several more are getting close.

People also need paid time to deal with routine illness – ear infections and colds and stomach flus. Eleven years ago, San Francisco was the first city to win paid sick days. Today, nearly 40 more cities and states have passed laws guaranteeing workers the right to earn paid sick days. In fact, California isn’t the only state with a July 1 commencement date! 15 different cities and states have implementation anniversaries that same day – including 7 brand new laws going into effect this year!

Here’s some highlights of laws, new and old, that we’re celebrating:

New Jersey: July 1st marks the anniversary of New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance program. This program pools small contributions to allow workers to receive wages when they take time to care for a new child or a family member with a serious illness. July 1st is also the day paid sick days took effect in Bloomfield, NJ. And if you live outside of Bloomfield, not to worry! At least 13 cities in New Jersey have paid sick days laws to protect their workers!

D.C.: In 2013, Washington DC’s paid sick days law expanded to cover all workers, including restaurant workers. A coalition in DC is now working to finish passage of a paid family leave bill.

Georgia: On July 1st, Georgia will become the first state in the South with any paid leave law in effect. Employees of businesses with 25 or more workers will be able to use their paid sick days to care for members of their immediate family. This change could benefit nearly 1 million people in the state.

Midwest wins: The Midwest has seen a number of wins in the past year, each of which take effect on July 1st. Chicago and Cook County, IL will join Minneapolis and St. Paul with new paid sick days laws!

If you didn’t see your city or state here, don’t worry. You can check out our map to see if there’s a paid leave law in your area. And, whether you saw your city or not, you can join us as we work to make paid sick and family leave a reality nationwide. Then get a refill on your popcorn – our movie is just getting started.

by Marianne Bellesorte, National Implementation Director for Family Values @ Work.