After Years of Failures at the Capitol, Paid Family Leave Headed for Ballot

By Jessica Folker


In 2004, California became the first state to implement a paid family leave program, and New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, D.C., have since followed suit. Three other states — Massachusetts, Connecticut and Oregon — have enacted paid family leave laws and will begin paying benefits in the next three years.

About 4–5% of covered workers in California and New Jersey use the program each year, according to Pronita Gupta of the Center for Law and Social Policy, speaking at a policy roundtable held Aug. 25 by Colorado Families First, the group behind the ballot initiative. Some of the benefits seen in states that have implemented programs so far, Gupta said, include a decrease in infant mortality and hospitalization, less postpartum depression and more breastfeeding among new mothers, and increased employee morale and retention.


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