DOL offers $1.25M to study paid leave programs

The Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau is going to administer $1.25 million for research and analysis on how paid leave programs can be developed and implemented across the country. This latest funding opportunity from the DOL builds upon a 2014 Women’s Bureau grant program that awarded a total of $500,000 to support paid leave feasibility studies in three states and the District of Columbia.

The Obama administration has made greater access to paid leave a priority, and a number of state and local governments have adopted or are now considering paid leave legislation. This grant program will enable similar actions in other jurisdictions. A Funding Opportunity Announcement on www.grants.gov outlines the grant priorities, evaluation factors, and application guidance for up to 10 competitive grants.

“Too many workers across the U.S. lack even a single day of paid leave to care for their families or themselves,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez following the announcement. “A worker shouldn’t be forced to choose between employment they need and the family they love. These grants will help states and cities lead on paid leave and give more working families the flexibility they need.”

The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees unpaid, job-protected leave for workers to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, a seriously ill family member, or their own serious health condition. However, many workers, especially low-wage workers, cannot afford to take unpaid time off. Paid family and medical leave programs help workers with caregiving responsibilities and medical needs remain in the workforce, and paid maternity and paternity leave has been shown to improve health outcomes for children.

The DOL has identified the grant program as a critical step toward helping jurisdictions throughout the United States develop the administrative and financial infrastructure necessary to meet the realities of today’s working families while also bolstering the Nation’s long-term economic success.

“These grants will encourage the development of programs that will benefit businesses and enable all workers, especially those in low wage jobs, to take time off to care for themselves and their families without risking their economic security,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama. More information is available at www.dol.gov/paidleave.

SOURCE: OPA News Release Number 15-1196-NAT, June 15, 2015.

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