9to5 Colorado member Zoey Palmer is active in our campaign to pass the FAMLI Act – paid family and medical leave insurance legislation – in Colorado. This bill, as introduced in March 2019, would define family members for whom an employee could take paid leave as “any individual with whom the employee has a significant personal bond that is like a family relationship, regardless of biological or legal relationship.”
Zoey shares her personal experience of why the most inclusive definition of family is important –
I’m here to support Colorado’s FAMLI Act because caring for ill family members has been really important to me throughout my life. I especially want to highlight how important it is to keep the definition of family in this bill inclusive and representative of our families.
When I was 13 my mother was diagnosed with ALS. She was a single mom and we didn’t have any other family in the area. Her friends would try to help out when they could. But because I was the only one who wouldn’t have financial repercussions to take care of her, I became her sole caregiver. I’m sure that if her friends had had access to paid leave they would have helped out more and I wouldn’t have had to do that at the age of 13. My mom died when I was 14 and her best friend became my guardian.
My guardian was diagnosed with lung cancer soon after. She struggled to take care of her now three children as a single mom while getting daily radiation and chemo treatments with no access to paid leave herself. She’s had to have two open heart surgeries. Following one surgery she was unable to work for three weeks, and had to return after that. One surgery was more intense and she was out of work for six weeks. Because she had no paid leave, she had to sell her house. We don’t have any legal relationship as family but I’ve had to take time off of work to take care of her as well. This legislation – paid family and medical leave insurance – would have been hugely beneficial to me and a lot of people I love.