Paid Family Leave advances in Legislature

Working families and businesses would benefit from statewide program

HONOLULU, February 5, 2020 — A statewide Paid Family Leave program is one step closer to becoming law after advancing through a Senate committee yesterday.

The Senate Committee on Labor, Culture, and the Arts unanimously passed SB2491 on Feb. 4, which would allow all workers to take paid, job-protected leave to care for their families. This measure dovetails with the Legislature’s focus in the 2020 session on issues affecting working families.

Paid Family Leave was one of Governor David Ige’s priorities during his re-election campaign. In 2018, Gov. Ige said that “Paid family leave would benefit Hawaiʻi’s working families, and I fully support the Legislature’s efforts to establish a plan for moving it forward.” Last year, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau completed a study showing how Hawaiʻi can implement a statewide Paid Family Leave program, based on models from other states. Eight states and Washington, DC already have Paid Family Leave programs.

Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network (HCAN) and the Working Families Coalition have long advocated for statewide Paid Family Leave. In response to the decision yesterday, Deborah Zysman, HCAN Executive Director, said:

“We’re grateful to Senator Brian Taniguchi and the Senate Committee on Labor, Culture, and the Arts for putting families first. Paid Family Leave will improve the lives of Hawaiʻi’s keiki, especially those in working families struggling to make ends meet. It will lift up all workers, businesses, and families, and help build a thriving economy and healthy community for all of Hawaiʻi.”

The typical worker cannot afford to take unpaid leave to care for their family, and most are not offered paid leave through their jobs. As Aloha United Way’s 2017 ALICE report showed, 48% of Hawaiʻi households are struggling to afford basic needs. Through a statewide Paid Family Leave program, all workers could take job-protected leave to care for new babies, newly adopted children, kūpuna, or loved ones with a serious injury or illness.

Contact: Ryan Catalani
[email protected]
(808) 531-5502 ext. 4

HCAN Executive Director Deborah Zysman is available for press interviews.

About Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network (HCAN): HCAN is a nonprofit creating a unified voice for Hawaiʻi’s children. Its grassroots movement strives to ensure that all keiki are safe, healthy, and ready to learn. For more information, visit


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