Public Hearing on the Paid Family Medical Leave
June 14, 2017 Yesterday a hearing for paid family leave was held at the Massachusetts state house. Testimony was heard from the representatives of the three bills. There was also testimony from private citizens who support the creation of paid family leave; from academics who have studied the bills and their potential effects; and from opponents of the program. A short video was shown in which local small business owners voiced their support of the program and talked about the role it could play in their business and the lives of their employees.
The three bills propose to create a system that allows for the existence of a paid family leave program in Massachusetts. At its core the program would have the employers (or employers and employees) pay a small premium per employee, per year. This money would be put into a fund that employees could withdraw from in the event of a leave of absence. This would allow for the employee to retain at least some of their income, thus relieving them of the added stress of financial burden in an already difficult time. It would also allow the employer to hire a temporary replacement without having to pay double salary or take on any other extraordinary measure in lieu of hiring someone new.
The main concern voiced was the position this program would put small businesses in. Most small business owners that spoke or whose opinions were voiced through third parties supported this program. They pointed out that the small cost in predictable periods is preferable to sudden and high costs. The cost of hiring and training new employees was also cited as something they would prefer to avoid.
All these benefits do not begin to touch on the immense personal benefits paid medical leave can provide individuals who are sick, caring for a loved one, or welcoming a new member of their family.
This program was called a “common sense benefit” and many people who spoke on its behalf expressed the sentiment that it is simply time for the commonwealth of Massachusetts to join the 21st century and the multitudes of other nations who have similar programs.