Despite overwhelming public support, FAMLI Act dies in the CO House

For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015    

Erin Bennett
Colorado Director, 9to5

DENVER – The FAMLI Act (Family and Medical Leave Insurance) died today in the Colorado House of Representatives, despite overwhelming public support.

House Bill 15-1258, sponsored by Reps. Faith Winter and Joe Salazar, would have established a family and medical leave insurance program for employees to receive wage replacement when they need to care for themselves, an ill family member, or the birth or adoption of a new baby. The bill died in the House with 33 Representatives voting in opposition (all Republicans and Democrats Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Angela Williams).

“We are disappointed to see a program that has proven to be very successful in other states and that Colorado voters overwhelmingly support unable to pass this year,” said Erin Bennett, Colorado Director of 9to5. “No one in our state should have to jeopardize their current financial stability or their future economic security in times of family crisis.”

The Colorado FAMLI Act would have been funded entirely by employee contributions – estimated at about $3 per week for an average full-time worker. Nearly 75 percent of Colorado voters believe that the cost to employees is reasonable.

Since last year, the momentum for family and medical leave insurance programs has been gaining momentum nationally. President Obama, once again, pushed working family values to the center of his agenda at his state of the union address. And paid family and medical leave insurance programs are moving forward in other states, including with bipartisan support in Connecticut.

The United States is the only developed nation that does not guarantee paid family and medical leave for its workers. But state by state, the issue is gaining momentum — California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island all offer guaranteed family leave insurance policies. Paid family and medical leave insurance programs enable workers to receive a portion of their income when they need to take time away from work to care for their families or themselves, support that is critical for many families trying to make ends meet. Only 13 percent of private-sector workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have access to medical leave through job-provided short-term disability insurance.

Many workers find themselves in a difficult situation when they only have an unpaid leave option. Workers like 9to5 member Faby Gonzaleswho had to make the decision to take her father off life support while at work.

The benefits of paid leave are vast, including lower unemployment rates and greater job security, financial independence, economic growth, and savings to businesses by reducing worker replacement costs. In California, where it has been in effect longest, between 89 and 99 percent of employers report that the program has had either a positive or no noticeable effect on turnover, productivity, profitability and morale.

“Families shouldn’t have to worry about losing their job, their home, or their livelihood when faced with a family crisis,” Rep. Faith Winter (D-Westminster) said. “This program helps families navigate some of their most difficult times in a way that supports the economic health of businesses. I’m disappointed my fellow legislators didn’t stand up to support families and create a stronger middle class.”

About 9to5: With forty-one years’ experience in winning justice for working women, 9to5 leads the way to create a powerful force for change on issues affecting low-wage women and their families.

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