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Miami-Dade pushes for passage of national family leave insurance program


On December 12, elected officials, economists, business owners, and parents will call on the Florida Congressional delegation to champion an affordable family leave program that provides important working-family protections. The Family Act, which was introduced Thursday by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep.Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), would create a social insurance fund allowing people to receive a portion of their pay when they need time away from their jobs to attend to health and family matters. 

Not to be confused with paid sick days offered by many employers, the bill would provide workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a personal serious illness, an illness of a child, a parent or spouse, and the birth or adoption of a child, among others. Workers and employers would each contribute a very small portion of their wages into a self-sustaining insurance fund that would allow workers to receive 66 percent of their wages while on leave.

"Part-time and contract workers can participate in the pool as well as full-time workers," said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a consortium of grassroots coalitions in 21 states, "Fo contractors, it works like social security. They would pay both the employee and employer contribution, a still quite modest .4 percent," Bravo said. 

Currently only 11 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers, while fewer than 40 percent have personal medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability program. In addition, while the Family and Medical Leave Act addresses the dual demands of job and family, it guarantees only unpaid, which millions of low-wage workers can't afford.   

California was the first state to pass a Paid Family Leave (PFL) program in 2002. New Jersey followed, then Rhode Island, and now states from Washington to Connecticut are laying the groundwork for similar plans. 

The Miami Dade County Commission was the first county in the country to pass a Family Medical Leave Act policy before the 1993 bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Support for paid family leave insurance has opponents among some employers but has gained traction with businesses that find it has a neutral or positive effect on their employees' productivity, profitability, and turnover, Read more. 



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