All workers face a time when they must take time off to care for themselves or their family. Access to family and medical leave will give families the peace of mind to care for their families and receive a paycheck.
At some point, nearly every worker faces a moment when they need leave, whether it’s to bond with a new baby, care for an aging parent, or recover from a serious illness or injury.
Unfortunately, because many working Montanans do not have access to paid leave benefits, they are forced to make impossible choices between their paycheck and the health of themselves and their families.
The United States is the only industrialized country that does not guarantee workers paid leave – only 13 percent of working Americans have access through their employers. And while the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides some employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave, this law is not enough. Many people do not qualify either because they work too few hours or work for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Even for those who do qualify, many workers cannot take the time off, because they cannot afford unpaid leave.
Four states – California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York – have successfully responded to the lack of paid leave by creating statewide insurance programs that provide workers access to paid family and medical leave benefits. Through these statewide plans, workers receive a portion of their wages for a period of 4 to 12 weeks to bond with a new child, recover from a serious illness or injury, or care for a loved one with a serious illness.
When workers have access to paid leave they can take the time they need to care for themselves and their family members while still receiving a portion of their paycheck.
Now, it’s time for Montana to provide paid family and medical leave for our workers. It is good for women, men, partners, single people, seniors, and businesses.