Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has asked Michigan lawmakers to give all workers in the state some “breathing room” by creating a new program to offer them paid family and medical leave.
The legislation is expected to come up for a vote and advocacy groups say it’s much needed.
Aisha Wells said she has a 16-year-old son who was born with hearing loss, impaired vision and significant developmental delays. The Michigan resident said she’s also expecting to deliver a new baby soon.
“I have in the past had to switch shifts,” said Wells. “I’ve had to fenagle my schedule. I’ve had to figure out whether or not I was going to be able to pay my rent or borrow money from friends and family to pay for groceries.”
In 2020, Michigan established 12 weeks of paid family leave for state workers. Three thousand, five hundred state employees have utilized family leave since it was enacted three years ago.
Monique Stanton is the president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.
She said the leave is designed sort of like an insurance program that’s set up for when somebody needs to go on leave, through contributions from both the employee and the employer.
She added that for employers at even smaller operations, this would level the playing field.
“If all employers in Michigan have a program where they’re offering paid family leave,” said Stanton, “right now as it stands at 15 weeks of leave, that’s something that you don’t have to worry about competing with maybe a bigger or more well-resourced employer to recruit and retain your staff.”
Stanton said employers that have less than 25 employees would not be required to pay the employer contribution but their employees are still eligible for paid family leave through the employee contribution.
That would mean additional cost savings for those really small businesses or those smaller nonprofits that would be able to offer their staff a robust program.
This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.