RELEASE: Senate Workforce Committee Holds Informational Hearing on Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Legislation

September 18, 2017
Contact: Luann Algoso, 714-613-2647, luann@familyforward.org

 

Senate Workforce Committee Holds Informational Hearing on
Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Legislation

Legislation to be considered for 2018 that will ensure Oregon workers can afford to take the time they need
to care for their own serious illness, a family member’s or to bond with a new child

(Salem, Ore.)— The Senate Workforce Committee held an informational hearing on Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation on Monday, which would ensure Oregonians can take time away from work— to deal with a serious personal or family illness or to care for a new child—without losing the income their family relies on.

Currently, only 14 percent of workers across the nation have access to paid family and medical leave at work. Federal and Oregon law provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for some workers—however, these laws don’t apply to everyone and they don’t help with lost income. In addition, many family members are excluded by workplace and economic policies that fail to recognize the nearly 80 percent of American families that don’t fit the nuclear family model of a married mother and father and their biologically related children.

“As Oregonians, we stand for family values, and those values don’t end at the workplace door,” said Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward Oregon and Chair of the Time For Oregon Coalition, a broad coalition made up of workers, businesses and community organizations.  “Workers need the security of knowing they can pay the bills when they need time off to welcome a new child or care for someone they love.”

Data also shows that workers in low-paying jobs are the least likely to have access to the paid family and medical leave they need to help avoid financial catastrophe when illness strikes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the bottom quarter of wage earners only 5 percent have access to paid family leave compared to 21 percent of the highest quarter. These workers are disproportionately women and people of color, who are also the most likely to take on the care of an ill relative to avoid the cost of other forms of care.

“My husband didn’t have paid family leave after our daughter was born and was only able to take two days off to be with us in the hospital, ” said Rachel Jesequel. “Our family was stressed.  I had a really difficult recovery from the birth and it was hard to take care of the baby without his help.  It was so painful to also watch Kevin struggle because he didn’t get the time he needed to bond with our daughter.”

The proposed legislation creates a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program that will be:

  • A self-sustaining insurance program administered by the state.
  • Structured as a social insurance program, like Social Security or Unemployment Insurance.
  • Funded by a shared contribution by employers and employees, each providing a small percent of payroll to a state-managed insurance fund that will administer the program.

The Committee will also learn details about a paid family and medical leave program that was signed into law in Washington earlier this year.

About the Time for Oregon Coalition:

Established in 2016, the Time for Oregon Coalition is a collaboration of powerful groups working together to bring paid family and medical leave to ALL Oregonians. Supporters range from community advocacy groups, business owners, labor organizations, public health organizations, senior groups, children’s groups and more. Learn more: www.TimeforOregon.org  

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