March 30, 2017
9to5 Supports New FAMLI Bill Creating Paid Family And Medical Leave Insurance for Caregivers
Balances Needs of Workers, Families, Business
DENVER – The state’s leading working women’s advocacy group, 9to5 Colorado, welcomed the introduction of the Family And Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMLI) which will enable employees to stay afloat financially while caring for their health and their families and also protect businesses’ ability to retain reliable, productive workers. Sponsored by Rep. Faith Winter (D-Westminster), HB17-1307 will be heard by the House Business Committee on April 11th.
“Everyone at some point has a sick child, an aging parent or a new baby, but 88% of workers in Colorado don’t have access to paid leave, leaving most unable to afford taking off the critical time they need,” said Neha Mahajan, Director of 9to5 Colorado. “Many Colorado workers are being forced to choose between a paycheck and recovering from a serious illness or caring for a family member. This is especially true for low-wage workers and workers of color, who are the least likely to have access to paid leave at their workplaces, and the most worried about covering the basics like rent, food and transportation if they are forced to leave their jobs or take unpaid time off.”
“My family and I have been in that impossible situation where we were financially forced to be at work to have enough money to pay bills, to buy food and to keep the lights on instead of taking time off work to care for a sick family member,” said Kris Garcia, a 9to5 volunteer member. “Not only was I unable to care for my seriously ill father for fear of losing income and my job, I couldn’t leave work to be by his side when he was dying. Family and Medical Leave Insurance would bring real peace of mind to Colorado families.
“The FAMLI Act is also good for Colorado’s economy by preventing families from losing hundreds of millions in wages, from facing bankruptcy and from being forced to rely on public assistance,” said Mahajan. “When workers are able to take paid leave to care for themselves or sick family members, burdens to the state and healthcare systems are also greatly reduced. The policy has been designed to benefit businesses as well, especially small businesses who could not otherwise afford to provide paid leave to their employees. FAMLI helps workers manage their family responsibilities with less stress so they come back to work and stay productive.
“The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without paid family leave, and we are thrilled that legislators are leading with a Colorado solution to ensure the well-being and financial stability of working families while staying competitive in a national and global market.”
The 2017 FAMLI Act:
Establishes a statewide family and medical leave insurance program
Addresses business and employer concerns that were raised in 2015 session
Applies to employees who have worked at least 680 hours in the previous year
Replaces 66-95% of wages, depending on an employee’s income level
Funded first by bonds/investors, then by employee contributions
Small premiums on employees, usually less than $100/year or $1-$5 per pay period
Allows employees to come back to the same or equivalent job without retaliation
Dollars that employers would need to pay the employee can be used for temp workers or profit
Cost of replacing wages for employees on leave is less than a percent of total annual earnings
9to5 Colorado is an organization of low-wage working women organizing for workplace fairness, equal opportunity and economic security.