Family Values @ Work Praises Dept. of Labor Grants to Support State and Local Paid Family Leave InitiativesSeptember 29, 2015
Six of the Eight Grant Recipients Include States with Active Family Values @ Work Coalitions
In response to this morning’s announcement that eight states will received Department of Labor grants to assist in planning and jump starting paid family leave programs to ensure workers have access to paid time off to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member, Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a network of coalitions in 21 states working to pass paid sick days and paid family leave policies, released the following statement:
“Today’s announcement is the latest example of the growing commitment to ensure access to paid family and medical leave insurance to all Americans. These grants constitute a key step to help millions more Americans know they can welcome a new child or care for a parent with cancer without sacrificing their family’s economic stability. We are proud that 6 of the states in our network are included among those awarded DOL grants, funds that will help advance the work these coalitions are engaged in.
Like Secretary Perez, we encourage—and will continue to fight for—more states to take up paid family leave legislation. But as a nation, we must make sure access to affordable leave is available to all new mothers and fathers and all of those who need to care for themselves or a seriously ill loved one. We salute the states who continue to lead the way in passing paid leave programs. Through their work, a growing body of evidence is shredding the predictions of doom from opponents and adding to momentum for passage of a federal paid family and medical insurance program through the FAMILY Act.”
The Family and Medical Leave Act – the only federal law designed to help working people meet the dual demands of job and family – leaves out 40 percent of the workforce and guarantees only unpaid leave, which many workers cannot afford to take. That means millions of workers who develop serious health conditions, have seriously ill family members or become parents are forced to choose between what is best for them and their families, and the income they need to cover basic expenses.
Family and medical leave insurance programs at the state level allow workers to pay a small premium each week for the guarantee that when they need it, they can receive a percentage of their wages while they have to take extended family or medical leave from work. These programs help working families stay afloat when they need time off to care for a seriously ill family member, a new baby or their own health. Successful funds already operate in three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Research has shown that paid family leave programs contribute to increased family financial stability and improved child well-being, better workforce outcomes for new parents, reductions in government public assistance expenditures, and cost-savings for businesses. A 2013 study found that 87% of California employers said the state’s paid family leave program had not resulted in any cost increases. A recent Rutgers study shows that New Jersey’s program has saved businesses money by improving employee retention, decreasing turnover costs, and improving productivity.
Under this initiative, the state paid family leave grants will provide assistance to states undertaking feasibility studies to support the development or implementation of paid family and medical leave programs at the state level. These funds will be provided for pre-implementation planning activities, which may include: designing a program; establishing protocol for withholding taxable wages; defining family eligibility and benefits requirements; and articulating start-up activities. Funds may also be used for activities such as research and analysis, stakeholder consultation; conducting actuarial analysis; and development of a financing model and benefit structure.
Family Values @ Work is a network of coalitions in 21 states working to pass policies that value families at work such as paid sick days and affordable family leave.
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