Study, commissioned by Legislature, paves the way for Paid Family Leave

Study, commissioned by Legislature, paves the way for Paid Family Leave

All working families could care for both keiki and kūpuna under proposals

HONOLULU, November 14, 2019 — With a new report released today, Hawaiʻi has everything it needs to allow all workers to take paid, job-protected leave to care of their families.

This study, commissioned by the Legislature in 2018 and published by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, shows how Hawaiʻi could implement a statewide Paid Family Leave program, based on models from other states. Eight states and Washington, DC already have Paid Family Leave programs.

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.

Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network (HCAN) and its statewide coalitions have long advocated for statewide Paid Family Leave. In response to the report, Deborah Zysman, HCAN Executive Director, said:

“It’s time to put families first. Thanks to this report commissioned by the Legislature, Hawaiʻi is ready to be the next state with Paid Family Leave. We’re excited to work with legislators in 2020 to pass a plan that Hawaiʻi’s working families deserve. A Paid Family Leave program will improve the lives of Hawaiʻi’s keiki, especially those in ALICE households 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 report shows that Paid Family Leave is smart for businesses and taxpayers alike.

  • Most people will need to take time off to care for their families at some point. The study confirms that workers with paid leave are more likely to return to their jobs, and that Paid Family Leave could “contribute to U.S. economic growth.”
  • Hawaiʻi workers could receive up to 16 weeks of paid leave, as the report models. Like in other states, lower earners would receive a higher percentage of their wages.
  • Previous research showed that Paid Family Leave could cost the typical Hawaiʻi worker just $1.11 per week, with no additional ongoing cost to taxpayers. Statewide polling has shown that about 3 in 5 Hawaiʻi workers are already willing to fund Paid Family Leave through their paychecks.


HCAN Executive Director Deborah Zysman is available for press interviews.

Download the report:

Download HCAN’s 2017 study on Paid Family Leave:

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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