Careers

The best places in the US for paid family leave

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Balancing the demands of work and personal life is no easy feat, but choosing a job, or home state, that empowers you building and growing a family can be a huge help.

According to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of 41 countries examined, only the U.S. does not mandate paid leave for new parents.

While eligible employees are protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year for employees to take care of a newborn child or family member, the cities and states listed here have developed their own policies.

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Washington

In July, Washington became the latest state to implement paid family leave when Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill that will allow eligible employees to take paid time off to care for a newborn child, adoption of a child, or the illness of the worker or worker's family member, according to The Seattle Times.

The bill, which has been referred to as one of the most generous paid family leave laws in the country, will go into effect in 2020.

Paid leave offered: Eligible employees are offered a standard 12 weeks off, in addition to 16 weeks off if a combination of family emergencies occur, and up to 18 weeks off if a serious health condition is experienced during a pregnancy.

Washington, D.C.

In 2016, Washington, D.C. passed a bill granting private-sector employees paid time off to care for a newborn child, adopted child, family member or personal illness, while earning 90 percent of their salary, reports Forbes.

The bill, which is funded by a 0.62 percent payroll tax increase on employers, is applicable to any worker who is employed in D.C., even if they don't live within city limits.

Paid leave offered: Eligible employees are offered eight weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn or adopted child, six weeks to care for a sick family member, and two weeks to care for a personal illness.

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New York

In 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York State Family Leave Program into law, and expressed why he personally feels paid family leave is a right all workers should have.

"Life is such a precious gift, and I have kicked myself every day that I didn't spend more time with my father at that end period," The Huffington Post reports Cuomo saying during a 2016 State of the State address. "I'm lucky; I could've taken off work, I could've cut days in half, I could've spent more time with him. It was my mistake, and a mistake I blame myself for every day."

New York's paid family leave, which applies to full-time and part-time private employees, will go into effect January 1, 2018 and will be phased in over four years, according to ny.gov.

Paid leave offered: In the program's first year, eligible employees can take a max of eight weeks of paid time off while earning 50 percent of their weekly wage. In the second and third year, employees can take 10 weeks of paid time off while earning 55 percent and 60 percent of their wage, respectively. In the fourth and subsequent years employees can take 12 weeks off while earning 67 percent of their weekly wage.

Rhode Island

In 2014, Rhode Island became the third state to implement paid family leave with their Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program (TCI), which allows Rhode Island employees to receive partial wage replacement benefits to take care of a newborn child, newly adopted child or a sick family member, while also protecting a worker's job security.

"It's about time we did this. We need laws that recognize the way we work and live has changed," The Washington Post reports Rhode Island Senator Gayle Goldin saying. "Internationally, we stick out like a sore thumb."

Paid leave offered: Eligible employees are offered up to four weeks of partial wage replacement to care for a newborn child or sick family member.

Older parents and daughter
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New Jersey

In 2009, New Jersey became the second state to pass a paid family leave bill, according to NJ.com. The bill, which is funded by employee payroll deductions of about 50 cents per week, allows workers to receive two-thirds of their weekly wage during their paid time off.

Paid leave offered: Eligible employees can currently take up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn child or sick family member. However, lawmakers are pushing to expand the policy to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave, while earning 90 percent of their weekly pay.

California

In 2002, California became the first state to lawfully protect paid family leave when former Governor Gray Davis signed a bill that allows workers to take time off to care for a newborn child or sick family member while earning 55 percent of their salary, according to the Los Angeles Times.

To help better benefit low-income employees, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill last year that will allow minimum wage workers to be paid 70 percent of their wage during their leave; employees earning higher pay will be paid up to 60 percent of their salary. The change, which will go into effect in 2018, came shortly after California committed to raising its minimum wage to $15 by 2022.

"Congress needs to catch up to California — and to countries all over the world — by acting to guarantee paid family leave to all Americans," the Los Angeles Times reports former President Barack Obama saying.

Paid leave offered: Eligible employees are offered up to six weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn child or sick family member.

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