Rhode Island Poised To Legalize Paid Family Leave

by Lane Florsheim

On Tuesday evening, the Rhode Island state House voted 53-18 to pass a new bill that would allow workers to take paid time off to care for a new child or a sick or injured family member. Although the Senate had already based the bill, it will be now be headed back to Senate for a final vote, due to a technical change in the House version. Next up: the bill will land on Gov. Lincoln Chafee's (D) desk, who is expected to sign it into law.

Rhode Island would become the third state with such programs, joining California and New Jersey. Connecticut recently set up a task force to evaluate the feasibility of implementing similar legislature.

Right now in Rhode Island, the state's Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program covers those who need time off for a work-related illness or injury. The bill would cover those who need family leave—up to four weeks of it, starting in January 2014. It would cover nearly 80 percent of the state's workforce.

Although opponents of the bill argue it would hurt businesses, research into California and New Jersey's programs have actually found a positive impact one businesses. One study of California's law even predicted that it would could save businesses $89 million in increased employee retention.

So, paid family leave benefits workers, and creates better workplaces. What are the other 47 states waiting for?