In Rhode Island, residents gush about paid family leave (May 26, 2015)

By Jennifer McDermott

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—As President Barack Obama pushes for a federal law to get paid leave to care for a new baby or an ailing relative, residents of one of the three states that already provide it sing its praises, hinting at the reception it could receive if rolled out nationally.

Rhode Island last year began allowing workers to take up to four weeks of paid leave. Many workers say they love the program, and employers say it hasn’t hurt business as some had feared.

Anne Quirk, of Providence, had planned to take three months of unpaid leave from her job as a speech language pathologist after she gave birth. But she needed five months off after her doctor ordered her on bedrest on Mother’s Day last year; then, her son was born prematurely in June.

“It was just such a stress reliever, knowing there was going to be money to help us pay the bills,” said Quirk, who gushed about the program to Obama when he visited Rhode Island in October. “I don’t know what we would’ve done without it.”

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