Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) at a Glance

In every employer and employee dentist’s career, an event may require time away from the practice. Take time to familiarize yourself with federal and state standards covering employment leave. 

Both federal and state laws typically have certain thresholds that must be met for specific statutes to apply; when it comes to workplace matters, that threshold is usually based on the number of employees. Know that thresholds can change over time so be sure you research your state’s current standards. 

Be aware that a lack of knowledge of FMLA requirements, or failure to comply with the rules, has the potential to lead to an employee filing a complaint against the practice.

What is Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division administers FMLA. 

FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunities for men and women. 

The FMLA covers private-sector employers who have 50 or more employees, public agencies, and private or public elementary/secondary schools. Additionally, the FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 26 work weeks of leave in a "single 12-month period" to care for a covered military service member with a serious injury or illness. FMLA's leave is unpaid time off. 

What Is Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)?

The U.S. Department of Labor defines PFML as paid time away from work due to circumstances that require a longer-term period of absence than the employer's regular sick-days policies offer. It has two basic components:

  • Paid family leave allows workers to take time off in order to care for ill family members or a new child. It's also known as "family caregiver leave" and "family leave insurance."
  • Paid medical leave is for taking time off for one's own serious illness or injury. It's also known as "temporary disability insurance" and "short-term disability."1

What is Paid Sick Leave?

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) shouldn't be confused with paid sick leave, which requires employers in certain states, cities, counties, and towns to provide paid leave for short-term health needs and preventive care. Currently, the states with paid sick leave laws are: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.

Covered Contracts, State and municipal paid sick leave laws shouldn't be confused with an executive order signed by President Obama in 2015—officially known as Paid Sick Leave, Executive Order 13706—which requires companies with federal government "covered contracts" to provide paid sick leave to employees.

For further descriptions of Paid Sick Leave, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Paid Family and Medical Leave, the U.S. DOL offers a comparison chart called “What’s the Difference?” 

PFML State-by-State

The specific policy details of PFML vary significantly by state but programs provide partially paid leave per year to eligible employees; from a fund set to a percentage of their wages; hours worked; company size; and duration of employment.

 

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) by State

California
  • Status: Active
  • Percentage of Wages: 60–70% of a worker's average weekly wage
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: Currently $1,540 (approximately 100% of the statewide average weekly wage)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to 52 weeks of medical leave for any period of disability and up to eight weeks of family leave in a 12-month period (California doesn't specify a cumulative limit)
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: One week (medical leave only)
  • Program funding: Workers cover the full cost of both disability Insurance and PFL. Both programs are funded by a single payroll deduction currently set at 1.1% of wages. This deduction does not apply to wages above $145,600/per year. The state sets the premium based on a formula in the state statute.
  • State Web site: California Disability Insurance | California Paid Family Leave

California offers both disability insurance (DI) and paid family leave (PFL). DI can be used for a serious off-the-job illness or injury. PFL can be used for bonding with a child within one year of their birth (or placement for foster care/adoption) or caring for a family member with a serious health condition.

These policies automatically apply to employees already covered by California unemployment insurance law, excluding most public-sector workers. Public-sector employers can opt into coverage, but this may require a negotiated agreement with an authorized bargaining unit. Domestic workers will be subject to a low minimum payment requirement.

To qualify, workers must have earned at least $300 (which may be income combined from more than one employer) during a base period of the first four of the five most recently completed quarters. Earlier quarters may be included if the worker was unemployed during at least part of the base period.

Covered family members include the worker's child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse/registered domestic partner, or a parent of their spouse/registered domestic partner. Workers aren't entitled to have their job back at the end of their leave (though they may have protections under other state laws).

Colorado
  • Status: Begins Jan. 1, 2024
  • Percentage of Wages: 90% of a worker's weekly wage (up to an amount equal to 50% of the statewide average weekly wage) and 50% of a worker's weekly wage (above an amount equal to 50% of the statewide average weekly wage). Certain employers and employees are not required to participate in the program or pay premiums.
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: Initially $1,100 (adjusted annually after the first year to 90% of the statewide average weekly wage)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to a maximum of 12 weeks in an application year (for medical, family, and/or safe leave, and workers with pregnancy/childbirth-related health needs may receive up to an additional four weeks of benefits)
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: No
  • Program Funding: Worker and employer share the cost. Employers with 10 or more employees are required to pay the employer’s share of the FMLA insurance premiums. All employees regardless of the size of the employer are required to pay.
  • State Web Site: Colorado Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Program
Connecticut
  • Status: Active
  • Percentage of Wages: 95% of a worker's average weekly wage (up to an amount equal to 40 times the state minimum wage) and 60% of a worker's average weekly wage (above an amount equal to 40 times the state minimum wage.)
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit:  (60 times the state minimum wage)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to a maximum of 12 weeks in a 12-month period (for medical and/or family leave, and workers with pregnancy/childbirth-related health needs may receive up to an additional two weeks of benefits).
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: No
  • Program Funding: Workers cover the full cost of all leave.
  • State Web Site: The Connecticut Family & Medical Leave Act and CT Paid Leave Appeals 

The policies automatically apply to all private-sector and many public-sector employees in the state of Connecticut, though the latter may depend on their involvement in a collective bargaining unit and for what said bargaining unit has negotiated. To qualify, workers will have to have earned at least $2,325 (which may be income combined from more than one employer) during a base period of the first four of the five most recently completed quarters.

Covered family members will include the worker's son/daughter, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, a parent of their spouse, a grandparent of their spouse, or an individual related to the worker by blood/affinity whose relationship is the equivalent of a family relationship. Workers are entitled to have their job back at the end of their leave, so long as they have been employed by their employer for at least three months prior to taking leave. This caveat doesn't apply to safe time.

District of Columbia (DC)
  • Status: Active
  • Percentage of Wages: 90% of a worker's average weekly wage (up to an amount equal to 40 times 150% of the D.C. minimum wage) and 50% of a worker's average weekly wage (above an amount equal to 40 times 150% of the D.C. minimum wage.)
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: $1,009 (adjusted annually based on inflation)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to a maximum of eight weeks in a 52-week period (up to two weeks of medical leave, up to six weeks of caring for a sick relative, and/or up to eight weeks of bonding with a new child.)
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: One week
  • Program Funding: Employers cover the full cost.
  • State Web Site: District of Columbia (DC) Paid Family Leave

The District of Columbia offers universal paid leave, which can be used for a worker's own health conditions, for bonding with a child within one year of their birth (or placement for foster care/adoption), or caring for a family member with a serious health condition.

This policy automatically applies to most private-sector employees in Washington, D.C. Domestic workers will be subject to a low minimum payment requirement. There are no formal eligibility requirements; however, employees who have worked for covered D.C. employer(s) for less than one year may receive a prorated benefit amount.

Covered family members include the worker's child, parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse/registered domestic partner, or a parent-in-law. Workers aren't entitled to have their job back at the end of their medical leave, though they are in the case of family leave.

Massachusetts
  • Status: Active
  • Percentage of Wages: 80% of a worker's average weekly wage (up to an amount equal to 50% times the statewide average weekly wage and 50% of a worker's average weekly wage (above an amount equal to 50% the statewide average weekly wage.)
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: $1,085.31 (adjusted annually after the first year to 64% of the statewide average weekly wage)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to a maximum of 26 weeks in any benefit year (up to 20 weeks of medical leave and/or up to 12 weeks of family leave); military caregivers can receive up to 26 weeks of family leave.
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: One week
  • Program Funding: Workers and employers share the cost.
  • State Web Site: Mass.gov Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) overview and benefits

These policies will automatically apply to employees already covered by Massachusetts unemployment insurance law, excluding some public-sector workers. Public-sector employers not covered by the law are able to opt into coverage. Additionally, some self-employed workers will be automatically covered.

To qualify, workers will have to have earned at least $5,700 (which may be income combined from more than one employer) during a base period of the past four completed quarters.

Covered family members will include the worker's child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse/domestic partner, or a parent of their spouse/domestic partner. Workers are entitled to have their job back at the end of their leave.

New Jersey
  • Status: Active
  • Percentage of Wages: 85% of a worker's average weekly wage
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: Currently $993 (70% of the statewide average weekly wage)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to 26 weeks of medical leave for any period of disability and up to 12 weeks of family leave in a 12-month period (New Jersey doesn't specify a cumulative limit.)
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: One week (medical leave only; workers eligible for benefits during each of three consecutive weeks after the waiting period can also receive benefits for that week.)
  • Program Funding: Workers and employers share the cost. The program is funded by a payroll deduction.
  • State Web Site: Division of Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance (nj.gov)

These policies automatically apply to employees already covered by New Jersey unemployment insurance law; while most public-sector workers aren't automatically covered by the temporary disability insurance policy, they can still opt in. Domestic workers will be subject to a low minimum payment requirement.

To qualify, workers must have earned at least 20 times the N.J. minimum wage (currently $260 at $13 per hour), which may be income combined from more than one employer, in at least 20 weeks. Alternatively, they need to have earned 1,000 times the hourly minimum wage (or $13,000) during a base period of the first four of the five most recently completed quarters, the four most recently completed quarters, or the three most recently completed quarters and the portion of the quarter that's already occurred.

Covered family members include the worker's child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse/registered domestic partner/civil union partner, a parent-in-law, any other person related to the worker by blood, or an individual the worker has a significant personal bond with whose relationship is the equivalent of a family relationship. Workers aren't entitled to have their job back at the end of their leave, though the law was amended to provide additional anti-retaliation provisions.

New York
  • Status: Active
  • Percentage of Wages: 50% of a worker's average weekly wage (disability leave) and 67% of a worker's average weekly wage (family leave)
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: For calendar year 2022: $170 for medical leave and $1,068.36 for family leave (67% of the statewide average weekly wage)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to a maximum of 26 weeks in a 52-week period (disability leave); up to 12 weeks of family leave; residents are eligible for both but they cannot be used simultaneously.
  • Program Funding: Disability leave is paid for by the employer through a disability benefits insurance policy, but the employer can optionally collect an employee contribution equal to one-half of one percent of wages per week, but never more than 60 cents per week, to help pay for the disability policy. Family leave can be paid for entirely by the employer or in calendar year 2022 can be paid for through employee payroll deductions equal to 0.511% of gross wages per pay period up to a maximum yearly deduction of $423.71.
  • Website: New York State Workers Disability Benefits | New York State Paid Family Leave   

New York offers both temporary disability insurance benefits and paid family leave. The former can be used for a serious off-the-job illness or injury that qualifies as a disability, while the latter can be used for bonding with a child within one year of its birth (or placement for foster care/adoption), caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or addressing certain military family needs.

These policies automatically apply to most private-sector employees in the state of New York.  Employers must provide disability leave benefits if they have any employee who has worked for 30 days – 4 weeks after that 30 day period, the employer becomes subject to providing disability leave benefits. Once a worker is subject to disability leave benefits coverage, it carries over to any successor employer who purchases or takes over from the previous employer. To qualify for paid family leave, workers typically must have been employed for at least 26 consecutive weeks by their current employer. For those who work less than 20 hours per week, they must have worked at least 175 days for their current employer.

Covered family members under Paid Family Leave include the worker's child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling (effective in 2023), spouse/registered domestic partner, or a parent-in-law. Workers aren't entitled to have their job back at the end of their disability leave, although they are in the case of family leave.

Oregon
  • Status: Employer deductions begin January 1, 2023. Employees may access beginning September 3, 2023. Rules are still being finalized. 
  • Percentage of Wages: If the employee’s average weekly wage is less than 65% of the state average weekly wage (AWW) the program provides 100% wage replacement. For 2022, the AWW is $1,325.24 (65% = $861.41/approx. $44,793.32 a year). If the employee’s AWW is more than 65% of the state AWW the wage replacement is calculated 65% of AWW + 50% of the employees AWW. A benefits calculator will be added to the State’s Paid Leave website this fall. 
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: 120% of the statewide average weekly wage ($1,375 for 2023)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to a maximum of 12 weeks in any benefit year (for medical, family, and/or safe leave); Workers with pregnancy/childbirth-related health needs may receive up to an additional two weeks of benefits.
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: No. But employees must earn more than $1,000 to become eligible.
  • Program Funding: Workers and employers share the cost of all leave. The 2023 rate has been set at 1% of payroll up to $132,900. Employers pay 40% and employees pay 60% and will be part of the employees withholding on their paycheck. Rules are still be drafted as to the tax treatment of these premiums. Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to pay the 40% employer contribution, but those employees still receive 100% of the benefit and the employer is required to do the withholding.  Premiums do not apply to wages above $132,900. 
  • State Web Site: Paid Leave Oregon | Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

These policies will automatically apply to all employees in the state of Oregon, excluding employees of federal and tribal governments. Tribal governments are able to opt into coverage as are self-employed individuals. To qualify, workers will have to have earned at least $1,000 (which may be income combined from more than one employer) during a base period of the first four of the past five completed quarters or the four most recently completed quarters.

Covered family members will include the worker's child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse/registered domestic partner, a parent of their spouse/registered domestic partner, a child-in-law, or an individual related to a covered individual by blood/affinity whose relationship is the equivalent of a family relationship. Workers are entitled to have their job back at the end of their leave, so long as they have been employed by their employer for at least 90 days prior to taking leave.

Helpful additional links for Oregon:

Rhode Island
  • Status: Active
  • Percentage of Wages: Approximately 60% of a worker's average weekly wage (formally, 4.62% of a worker's wages in the highest-earning quarter of the base year)
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: Currently $978 (85% of the statewide average weekly wage)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to a maximum of 30 weeks in a 52-week period (up to 30 weeks of medical leave and/or four weeks of family leave)
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: No
  • Program Funding: Workers cover the full cost. Programs are funded by a single payroll deduction currently set at 1.1% of wages this deduction does not apply to wages above $81,500/year.
  • State Web Site: Rhode Island Paid Sick and Safe Leave

These policies automatically apply to employees already covered by Rhode Island unemployment insurance law. While public-sector workers aren't automatically covered by the temporary disability insurance policy, they can still opt in, as can unions covering public-sector workers through a collective bargaining process. Domestic workers will be subject to a low minimum payment requirement.

To qualify, workers must have earned at least 200 times the R.I. minimum wage (currently $2,450 at $12.25 per hour) in one quarter of the base period, at least 1.5 times the worker's highest-earning quarter across the base period, and at least 400 times the minimum wage (currently $4,900) over the entire base period (which may be income combined from more than one employer).

Covered family members include the worker's child, parent, grandparent, spouse/registered domestic partner, or a parent of their spouse/registered domestic partner. Workers aren't entitled to have their job back at the end of their medical leave, though they are in the case of family leave.

Washington
  • Status: Active
  • Percentage of Wages: 90% of a worker's average weekly wage (up to an amount equal to 50% of the statewide average weekly wage) and 50% of a worker's average weekly wage (above an amount equal to 50% of the statewide average weekly wage)
  • Maximum Weekly Benefit: Initially $1,327 (adjusted annually after the first year to 90% of the statewide average weekly wage)
  • Length of Benefits: Up to a maximum of 16 weeks in a 52-week period (up to 12 weeks of medical and/or family leave); workers with pregnancy/childbirth-related health needs may receive up to an additional two weeks of benefits.
  • Unpaid Waiting Period: One week (medical and family leave, excluding bonding leave)
  • Program Funding: Workers and employers share the cost of medical leave. Employer can withhold up to 45% of the premium from workers’ wages. Employers cover the remaining cost. Employers with fewer than 50 employees in Washington State are not required to pay the employer portion. Currently, the total premium for medical leave is about 0.29% of wages. Workers cover the full cost of family leave. Currently the premium is about 0.31% of wages. The state will set the premium based on a formula set by statute.
  • State Web Site: Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave

Washington offers paid family and medical leave (PFML). The former can be used for bonding with a child within one year of their birth (or placement for foster care/adoption), caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or addressing certain military family needs. The latter can be used for a worker's own serious health conditions.

These policies automatically apply to all employees in the state of Washington. To qualify, workers must have worked for at least 820 hours (which may be hours combined from more than one employer) during a qualifying period of the first four of the five most recently completed quarters or the four most recently completed quarters.

Covered family members include the worker's child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse/registered domestic partner, or a parent of their spouse/registered domestic partner. Workers are entitled to have their job back at the end of their medical leave, but only if they meet specific eligibility requirements similar to those of the FMLA.

PFML State Resources

Last updated: July 26, 2022