Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program Press Release

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Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Legislation that would provide paid family leave for Maryland families

 

For Immediate Release

Contact: The Office of Delegate Ariana Kelly

Ariana.Kelly@house.state.md.us

(301) 858-3642

Annapolis, MD. (February 9, 2016) ­– Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-16) of Montgomery County and Senator Catherine Pugh (D-40) from Baltimore City, joined by nearly 100 co-sponsors from across the state, introduced legislation to develop a Paid Family and Medical Leave Program in Maryland.

The Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program creates a state-run social insurance fund for workers who must take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave due to a serious medical condition; a family member’s military deployment; or, to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition.

"The U.S. remains the only industrialized country in the world without a paid family leave system -- a fact that is not sustainable for Maryland's modern economy. The birth of a child is one of the leading causes of a poverty spell in Maryland. Nearly one in four new mothers returns to work less than two weeks after giving birth because they can not afford to take unpaid leave. In the state of Maryland, we can do better for our families,” Delegate Kelly said.

HB740 is modeled after successful state programs in New Jersey, Rhode Island and California. Similar legislation passed the New York House, awaiting a Senate vote, on February 2, 2016.  HB740 creates a fund within the Division of Unemployment Insurance to provide workers 2/3 of their salary for up to 12 weeks for family and medical leaves.

“Maryland families deserve time off when they must face some of the most difficult times in life. As a small business owner, I know first-hand how important it is that employers take care of their employees. Everyone deserves economic security when dealing with the serious illness or deployment of a family member, or welcoming a new member to the family,” Senator Pugh said.

Paid Family Leave funds are affordable and generate long-term economic benefits. A report from Rhode Island’s paid family leave program found little evidence of significant impacts to employers in the state.1 Access to paid family leave reduces poverty, prevents unemployment, reduces employee turnover and increases employee morale, as well as improves health outcomes.

The demographics of the American workforce have changed dramatically since social security and unemployment were first developed.  In 1950, 33% of all women were in the workforce.2 Today, 57% of mothers of newborn children are working2 and 64% of women with children under 6 years old are in the workforce.3

Paid Family leave is especially important for senior citizens and their caregivers, people impacted by serious illnesses, people with disabilities, military families, as well as new parents. Nearly 4 in 5 U.S. voters agree it is important to keep families economically secure when they need time off for difficult circumstances.4

This legislation is supported by a number of businesses, community, and public health groups and is a top priority for the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women, a coalition of more than 30 women's groups across Maryland. It is also part of the Maryland Working Families Women's Economic Security Agenda.

“Paid family leave brings assistance to both seniors who need care and their adult children, who often must provide that care while holding a job. Allowing medical leave helps the sick get healthy faster and enables family members to be there for their loved ones. Developed nations around the world offer it, and Maryland should, too.” said Jim Baldridge, President of Maryland and District of Columbia Alliance for Retired Americans.

Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller said, “The more than 71,000 teachers and education support staff who make up the Maryland State Education Association strongly urge our state legislators to pass a state family and medical leave program.”

Delegate Kelly and Senator Pugh partnered successfully in 2014 to pass the Maryland Parental Leave Act which ensures job-protected time off for new parents employed by small businesses in Maryland. The Maryland Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, if successful, will ensure these new parents and others who are caring for a sick relative or dealing with a personal medical condition, will have enough income to pay their basic expenses during their short-term leave.

Sources

[1] Assessing Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance Act: Insights from a Survey of Employers, 2016

[2] Women in the Labor Force, Bureau of Labor Statistics

[3] Employment Characteristics of Families Summary, Bureau of Labor Statistics

[4] National Partnership for Women & Families Poll, January 2016

Additional Resources

The Business Case for Paid Leave and Paid Sick Days, Center for American Progress 

The Economics of Paid and Unpaid Leave, The Council of Economic Advisers, The White House

Overview of Paid Family Leave Laws in the United States, A Better Balance Legal Center, 2015

Paid Family and Medical Leave, Department of Labor

House Bill 740 can be accessed here

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