Sen. Sieben unveils paid family and medical leave proposal
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Monday morning, March 7, Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Cottage Grove) was joined by more than a dozen statewide advocacy groups to unveil her Paid Family and Medical Leave bill. One day ahead of the start of the 2016 Legislative Session, Sieben says she is looking forward to getting to work on a bill that would allow workers to meet the needs of their families without jeopardizing their economic security. The proposal was designed with the principle everybody contributes, everybody benefits in mind; Sieben hopes this will help attract businesses to support the bill.
“We know that workers who have access to paid family leave use less sick time and are healthier,” Sieben said. “When employees are given the opportunity to care for their children, use the time to heal after a serious medical illness, or care for their aging parents – it means they are better able to earn a good living, support their family, and retire securely.”
The Paid Family and Medical Leave bill will require startup funds from the legislature, but after it is implemented, the statewide insurance program will be maintained by equal employee and employer contributions. Employees would contribute a percentage of their income. For the average worker, the weekly contribution would equal about the cost of a cup of coffee.
“Currently in the U.S. only 13 percent of workers have access to paid family leave, and 40 percent of workers can access paid medical leave,” Sieben said. “Usually these workers are already some of the highest paid, an inequity that contributes to economic disparities in our state. Paid family and medical leave helps level the playing field so that all parents, not just the wealthy, can spend time with newborns and care for loved ones when they are sick.”
Recently, Gov. Mark Dayton announced his proposal to provide paid parental leave for state employees. Sieben applauded the governor for taking the lead to advance workplace policies for the state’s largest employer, the State of Minnesota. Dayton’s proposal is a step in the right direction toward ensuring working Minnesotans have financial assistance and job security as they focus on caring for and bonding with a new child. The proposal aims to provide a partial wage replacement system that is modeled after other states that have paid leave insurance programs.