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A push for paid family leave

A push for paid family leave

Shellyann Smith took 12 weeks off for the births of each of her two children — and got paid for it.

Smith, a 32-year-old customer service and sales specialist at the Bank of America call center in Hunt Valley, says her employer's policy of granting 12 weeks of paid maternity leave meant she "didn't have to think about work or worry about my job being there when I got back."

A growing movement of workers — and their supporters in Annapolis and Washington — wants to make the benefit universal.

Democrats in Congress have proposed a fund that would pay a worker up to two-thirds of his or her monthly wages for 12 weeks to care for a new child or an elderly family...