Did you know that July 22nd is Parents’ Day? While much lesser known than Mother’s or Father’s Day, Parents’ Day is a time to celebrate parents for raising the next generation. It also reminds us to reflect on how hard parents work – whether it is in the home, the workforce, or both. Balancing work and family is challenging for parents, and they deserve workplace policies that provide them adequate time off to attend to their needs and their families’ needs without risking their economic security. That’s where paid family and medical leave would make a difference for parents in Montana.
While the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 was a first step, the law only guarantees unpaid leave and only covers employees who work at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding their leave and works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees. This policy leaves many working Americans out. Forty percent of working Americans are not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act and of the workers who do qualify, 46 percent state that they cannot afford unpaid leave.
As a result, states have started to enact their own family and medical leave policies. Today, six states and the District of Columbia, provide businesses and employees access to paid family and medical leave programs.
In 2017, MBPC and partner organizations proposed a Montana paid family medical leave insurance program, FAMLI). The FAMLI Act would combine small amounts from employees and employers (less than one percent of wages) to create a dedicated funding stream for workers when they need time off to care for themselves or a loved one. From these small contributions, workers would receive a portion of their wages while on leave. There are numerous economic, social and health benefits for moms, dads, as well as businesses and the overall workforce in Montana. Here are just a few examples:
When both parents have access to workplace policies that help them balance work and family demands, everyone wins. So, whether or not you are a parent, we can all agree that moms and dads make a lot of sacrifices to support their kids. The staff at MBPC is excited to continue to work with organizations and families across the state to find Montana solutions to better support workers and their families.
MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.