Central PA's LGBT News Source

Study claims high support

Statewide paid family leave program


The Pennsylvania Department of Labor announced a study showed 80% of Pennsylvania adults strongly favor a statewide program to guarantee access to paid family and medical leave.

The report researched and analyzed the potential impact of creating a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance fund program. Presently such programs exist in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington DC, Washington State and California.

Key findings from the state report include:

*A majority of Pennsylvania employers support creating a statewide program.

*Workers in Pennsylvania invest 1.4 billion hours of unpaid time caring for the elderly each year. Pennsylvania has one the oldest populations in the country and 78% of seniors living at home and in need of care depend on family and friends as their only source of support;

*Fewer than half of working adults in Pennsylvania – 40.9% – are both eligible for and can afford to take unpaid leave under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – which provides only unpaid leave – and only provides that to a slim minority of the workforce. 21% of Pennsylvanians do not have the resources to survive 12 weeks of unpaid leave;

*Currently of the 69% of Pennsylvania employers who do not offer paid family and medical leave, many cite financial costs as the primary barrier – costs a statewide insurance program could alleviate since a state insurance fund would be financed through small employee payroll deductions rather than an employer funded plan;

*Small businesses benefit when paid leave is administered through a paid leave insurance fund because the pay burden is removed from individual employers and the overall cost of leave is shared across the entire statewide workforce;

*Increasing access to paid family leave can help increase job retention rates and decrease the gender wage gap; and,

*A State PFMLI can help families struggling with the opioid crisis by providing those struggling with addiction with paid medical leave to enter into rehabilitation services and providing paid family leave to family members so they can provide care to their loved ones in those critical few weeks after they are released from a rehabilitation clinic.

“This is a commonsense policy that will benefit millions of Pennsylvanians,” said Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation and Co-chair of Paid Leave for PA. “A statewide paid family and medical leave insurance fund helps level the playing field for small and medium sized companies across Pennsylvania and makes family-friendly policies more affordable and accessible for all Pennsylvanians.”

"Paid family and medical leave programs enable small businesses to compete on a level playing field with larger employers, reduce turnover costs, provide an important safety net for business owners themselves, and support the local economy,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of Main Street Alliance. “This new study again highlights the need for a comprehensive legislative solution to address the lack of PFML coverage for small business owners and their employees."

Paid Leave for PA, chaired by Women and Girls Foundation and PathWays PA, is comprised of ninety organizations across Pennsylvania. It is a non-partisan coalition advocating for a state program to be established in Pennsylvania to make Paid Family and Medical Leave accessible to all Pennsylvanians and all employers. Paid Leave for PA, led by the Women and Girls Foundation, is currently holding town halls across Pennsylvania with stakeholders, nonprofits, and community groups to discuss the need for a statewide paid leave program for Pennsylvania.

“Nearly all workers need to take leave during their career to address a serious health condition or care for a family member,” said Marianne Bellesorte, Vice President of Advocacy at PathWays PA and Co-chair of the Paid Family Leave Campaign Steering Committee. “Businesses and employees across Pennsylvania want paid family leave policy that works for employers, workers, and families in Pennsylvania. This is a model that successfully exists in states across the country and we need to make it a reality in Pennsylvania.”