economic inequality

How many weeks should the United States mandate in paid family leave for workers?

More than 12 weeks

More than 12 weeks

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

“The evidence is clear: doctors, the World Health Organization, parents around the world, and other experts recommend at least 6 months of paid leave. As President, [Sanders] will guarantee 6 months paid family leave. The U.S. must end the national disgrace of being the only major country in the world not to offer paid family leave. We must guarantee all workers paid family and medical leave, paid sick leave, and paid vacation,” Sanders told The Post. He co-sponsored the FAMILY Act, which would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to American workers.

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Tom Steyer

Billionaire activist

“The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not extend leave to its citizens for the birth of a child, long term care needs or death. I will advocate for paid family leave legislation that will allow a minimum of 6 months paid family leave for all workers,” Steyer told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Tom Steyer
Steyer

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

“We are one of only two countries in the world that does not guarantee paid family leave. Too many Americans have to choose between taking care of their families or getting a paycheck,” Yang's campaign told The Post. “Whether you are welcoming a child into the family, taking care of a sick loved one, or having to take personal medical time off, [Yang] believes that every working American should be guaranteed a minimum of six months of paid family leave.” Yang has called for “at least 9 months of paid family leave, distributed between parents however they see fit; or 6 months of paid leave for a single parent.”

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Andrew Yang
Yang

Cory Booker (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New Jersey

Booker is no longer running for president. “I support at least six months of gender-neutral paid family and medical leave that provides up to full wage replacement for the lowest-income workers,” Booker told The Post. Booker's plan for workers backed the FAMILY Act and said he "supports efforts to expand paid family and medical leave proposals to help more low-income workers start with higher wage replacement rates. [Booker] would also fight for workers to be able to earn paid sick time, building on the Healthy Families Act.”

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Cory Booker
Booker

Kamala D. Harris (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, California

Harris is no longer running for president. “As President, [Harris] will work with Congress to create a national paid leave program to provide all workers with up to six months of paid family and medical leave,“ her campaign website said. Harris previously co-sponsored the FAMILY Act, which would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to American workers.

Candidate positions highlighted
Kamala Harris
Harris

12 weeks

12 weeks

Michael Bennet

U.S. senator, Colorado

“America is the only advanced economy without paid family and medical leave. That’s shameful. As president, I will fight to immediately pass the FAMILY Act to provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. We should consider extending the length of paid leave based on the evidence, but at the very least we should start with 12 weeks,” Bennet told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Michael Bennet
Bennet

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“When I lost my first wife and baby daughter in a car accident, I became a single parent to my two young sons. I’ve taken care of an aging parent. I know how hard it is to raise a family, and what it’s like to take care of a sick family member. That’s why I was proud to fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act, landmark legislation that created important workplace protections and granted 12 weeks of leave to working families,” Biden told The Post. “But we need to go further — I believe the United States should guarantee 12 weeks of paid sick and family leave for workers. American workers deserve to know they can keep their families afloat if they have to take care of a sick family member.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Biden
Biden

Mike Bloomberg

Former New York mayor

Bloomberg supports mandating 12 weeks of paid family leave, a campaign spokesperson told The Post. His company extended gender-neutral paid family leave to 26 weeks in 2019.

Candidate positions highlighted
Mike Bloomberg
Bloomberg

Pete Buttigieg

Former mayor, South Bend, Ind.

“As I discuss in my women’s policy, “Building Power,” I support providing 12 weeks of paid family leave for all workers by passing the FAMILY Act. I will also propose enhancements to the Act by ensuring that benefits for lower-income workers will be high enough, so they can afford to take leave, and no one will lose their job when they need time away to provide care,” Buttigieg told The Post. “Caregiving responsibilities for grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and chosen family members will be included. My administration will also decouple medical leave benefits from family care and new child leave benefits to provide a longer total annual leave for workers who have both serious personal health issues and a family health issue or new child within the same year.”

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. representative, Hawaii

Gabbard co-sponsored the FAMILY Act, which would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to American workers.

Candidate positions highlighted
Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar supports mandated paid family leave, she told The Post. Her plan for workers calls for “up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and allowing workers to earn paid sick leave.” Klobuchar co-sponsored the FAMILY Act, which would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to American workers.

Candidate positions highlighted
Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Deval Patrick

Former governor, Massachusetts

“Working with Congress, we will create a federal mandatory paid family and medical leave program modeled on those already in place or being rolled out in states like New York and Massachusetts,” Patrick's social infrastructure plan said. “Paid leave should include parental leave for birth or adoption as well as leave for illness or caring for a family member. The program will be universal and gender-neutral, providing up to twelve weeks of leave, in addition to the paid sick leave or vacation leave that all employers should also offer. ”

Candidate positions highlighted
Deval Patrick
Patrick

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

“I am a co-sponsor of the FAMILY Act, which guarantees 12 weeks of paid leave. I also have a plan to require federal contractors to extend a $15 minimum wage and benefits — including paid family leave, fair scheduling and collective bargaining rights — to all employees,” Warren told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Elizabeth Warren
Warren

Steve Bullock (Dropped out)

Governor, Montana

Bullock is no longer running for president. “Ensuring adequate paid leave could reduce infant mortality by as much as 10 percent while improving maternal health outcomes. As president, I will fight to ensure at least 12 weeks of paid leave so that every worker can care for their families,” Bullock told The Post. Bullock's campaign website expressed support for the FAMILY Act and for “creating a national family and medical leave program covering 50 percent of wages for 12 weeks.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Steve Bullock
Bullock

Julian Castro (Dropped out)

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro is no longer running for president. Castro's working families plan pledged “at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for every American per year. We should compensate workers at least 66 percent of their salary during that period with a greater degree of wage replacement for low income workers.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Julian Castro
Castro

Joe Sestak (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

Sestak is no longer running for president. Sestak supports 12 weeks of paid family leave, he told The Post. “I will pass robust family and medical leave legislation, and do more to support people who work full-time at home caring for elderly or disabled loved ones,“ Sestak's women's rights plan said.

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Sestak
Sestak

Marianne Williamson (Dropped out)

Author

Williamson is no longer running for president. “I support the FAMILY Act with three months of paid leave when a worker becomes a new parent, a caregiver for another family member, or ill themselves,” Williamson told The Post. “Eventually I would like to see paid leave extended to six months.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Fewer than 12 weeks

Fewer than 12 weeks

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

“The federal government should provide every American worker with 8 weeks of paid caregiving leave, which can be paid for by a small payroll tax increase without adding to the deficit,” Delaney told The Post. His campaign website said the plan “allows eligible individuals to take up to eight weeks of leave each year, receiving 60 percent of their monthly wage.”

Candidate positions highlighted
John Delaney
Delaney

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Background The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act — introduced by former candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) — would create a fund to guarantee up to 12 weeks of partial income for workers to care for newborn children or family members with serious illnesses. Most 2020 candidates have backed the legislation, with some calling for a longer span of guaranteed paid leave. Republicans have proposed their own paid leave legislation that would allow workers to receive Social Security benefits early to offset time away from work.

How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic presidential campaign asking whether it supports various changes to U.S. economic policy. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role, and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports and surveys. See something we missed? Let us know.

This page will update as we learn more about the candidates’ plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president. If a candidate dropped out after a question was published here, their stance is included under the "Show former candidates" option. If they dropped out before a question was first published, the Post did not reach out to get their stance.

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Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.