We all know that balancing life and work can be hard- and after a birth, serious injury, or long-term illness, that balance can be near impossible. This is especially true when workers and their families are forced to choose between a paycheck, and staying home to care for themselves or a loved one.
Most countries guarantee paid family and medical leave (PFML) for their citizens, so that they don’t need to put their families at economic risk in order to care for themselves. States like New Jersey, California, and Rhode Island, have led the way here in the United States, and we hope Vermont will be soon to follow.
That’s why VPIRG is joining VT FaMLI, a statewide coalition of over twenty organizations fighting for a paid family and medical leave insurance program in Vermont. A bill recently introduced in the legislature, H.196, would provide twelve weeks of paid leave for employees following a birth, or a serious injury or illness. Employees would be reimbursed 100% of their wage capped at two times the livable wage (last calculated at $13 in Vermont in 2014). The program would be financed by a .93% payroll deduction, split evenly between employees and employers.
This policy follows recommendations laid out by a recently released feasibility study from the Vermont Commission on Women. Among other important findings, the study reports that “economic impact calculations suggest that implementing a PFML program could lead to $2.56 to $4.01 million in annual savings for Vermont,” including an estimated 1,800 Vermont families that would retain economic security, keeping them above the poverty threshold.
These are real benefits, for real families, in our communities.
VPIRG sees this bill as promoting basic economic fairness and financial security for all Vermonters. That’s especially important in times like these. We hope you’ll agree and let your legislators know that you support it too: