Rhode Island appears set to become the third state to require paid family leave for private employees after the State House approved the legislation on Tuesday. The bill passed the Senate several days ago. The Senate has to approve a technical change in the House bill and then the legislation goes on to Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D), who is expected to sign it.
In January, the law will begin allowing approximately 80% of the private workforce to start paying into the program, for an average of 83 cents a month, and would give them access to up to four weeks of leave to take care of a new child or sick or injured family members. By 2016, the amount of potential paid family leave a worker could earn would rise to eight weeks.
New Jersey and California already have similar programs and Connecticut recently created a commission to look into establishing a similar policy. Currently, only 17% of public-sector workers in the United States have paid maternity leave and only 11% of private-sector workers have it. The United States is only one of three countries in the world that doesn't require that all workers get paid maternity leave.