The new paid family leave

From grandparent leave to paw-ternity, some companies are offering paid time off to care for relatives, train a pet or get acquainted with new grandchildren

Text by Jena McGregor and illustrations by Hannah Li
The Washington Post. DECEMBER 30, 2019

The U.S. remains the only industrialized country that doesn’t guarantee workers paid family leave. In 2018, just 17 percent of civilian workerscould get paid time off from work to care for a new child or ill family member, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure dips to 11 percent for workers at the smallest companies.

But a tightening labor market and a vast cohort of millennial workers beginning to start families are putting pressure on employers to expand their benefits to attract and retain workers. Eight states, plus the District, have also passed laws that require workers or their employer to pay into state paid leave funds through payroll contributions. And President Trump has signed a bill that, for the first time, will provide paid leave for the federal government’s estimated 2.1 million civilian employees following the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.

Large employers are offering more weeks of paid leave to employees trying to meet family obligations, such as caring for an elderly parent or sick older child, coping with the death of a family member, or in some instances taking care of a new pet.

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