What is Paid Family Leave?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2019
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Paid family leave is paid time off work for the purpose of caring for an ill family member, bonding with a new addition to one’s family, or recovering from an illness or injury. When a person has paid family leave, he receives an income during the time he is away from work. This income may amount to his typical pay or only a portion of it. In addition, this type of leave is usually job protected, which means an employee's job is waiting for him when his leave time is over and he is ready to return to work.

When a person has family leave time available to him, this is separate from other ways he may normally take time off work. For example, a person may have sick, personal, and vacation days he could use when he needs time off work. Paid family leave, however, is entirely separate from regular types of paid leave. As such, taking advantage of family leave usually won't interfere with the number of sick, personal, or vacation days a person has available to him.

The exact definition of paid family leave may differ a bit from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In many places, however, paid family leave allows an employee time to recover from childbirth, bond with a newborn, or spend significant time with a newly adopted child. Some companies may also provide paid leave to allow employees to care for ill family members.


It is important to note that many jurisdictions do not have laws that require employers to pay for family leave. Many do, however, require employers to provide unpaid leave time. Unfortunately, even unpaid leave requirements may be limited in some jurisdictions. For example, some jurisdictions have laws that only require employers of at least 50 workers to provide unpaid leave time. In such cases, these laws may only apply to employees who meet certain criteria, such as having completed a particular number of work hours in the previous year.

Though there are some jurisdictions in which employers are not required to provide paid family leave, employees may still have the chance to obtain it. In some countries, government programs may sponsor leave with pay. Some employers may also offer paid family leave as part of their optional employee benefit packages. Additionally, some employers may offer paid family leave but severely restrict the amount of time a person may benefit from it or offer half pay during leave time rather than full pay.



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