Is Your State About to Make Paid Leave Mandatory?

By 2026, 18 US states will have mandated paid leave requirements, setting job benefit expectations across the nation.

State-mandated paid leave plans are on the rise across the US: Colorado is the latest state to create regulation surrounding this job benefit, with laws set to kick in next year.

By 2026, four more states – Delaware, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota – will have joined as well, bringing the total number up to 18 states across the nation.

If your own state isn't on that list, it might be next. That's why smart businesses are already looking at adding or expanding their paid leave programs in order to stay ahead of the legally mandated minimums.

What Paid Leave Laws Tend to Focus On

The exact paid leave coverage will vary by state — the “seriousness” of an employee's health condition might be tracked in different ways, although injury and maternity are typically covered.

Some state laws cover a set period of time following a child's birth, adoption, or fostering, and states are increasingly likely to cover paid leave taken on behalf of a family member who is dealing with a serious health issue of their own.

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Speaking at a Disability Management Employer Coalition webinar that was recently covered by HR Dive, Tom Foschino, vice president of accident and health at Arch Insurance Group, discussed the rising number of states with mandated paid leave.

“You can see this is really starting to catch on more and more here. There are a lot of things that you as an employer need to be looking out for when you have employees across these different states.”

Will We Get a Federal Paid Leave Law Anytime Soon?

No, we're probably not getting a nationwide paid leave mandate, at least in the near future.

That's not for a lack of trying. Most recently, a paid family leave provision was slipped into the “Build Back Better Act,” which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2021. It was replace by a condensed version after Senator Joe Manchin rejected the original, and even that shortened edition of the provision didn't ultimately make its way into law.

Sadly, we'll be stuck with the much more complex raft of state-by-state regulator sticking points and loop holes for the foreseeable future — making the US the only industrialized country in the world to lack national paid leave regulations.

Don't Forget to Bring Up Paid Leave at Your Next Job Interview

By 2026, the number of US states with mandated paid leave requirements will reach 18.

That's enough to set an expectation for bolstered paid leave everywhere in the nation, particularly for any companies that have a workforce on the same payroll across more than one state.

If your company isn't leaving all the HR management protocols to a third-party company like an EoR or hiring agency, you'll have to figure out how to navigate all the new mandates yourself.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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