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Falling for Paid Family Leave

My story isn’t tragic, nor is it out of the ordinary. My story is simply about appreciation and acknowledgement that we need to do more 

Recently, I took quite a tumble down my basement stairs. Falling down a set of stairs might seem trivial to those who haven’t taken that trip before, since I have, I can tell you that it was a painful and scary event. It resulted in a trip to the emergency room and a week off work to recover. During this time, my supervisor and teammates were supportive, empathetic and understanding. This gave me peace of mind and I felt so fortunate to have this time to focus on healing my body and mind. 

This situation made me consider what would have happened if I did not have sick time, an understanding employer, and a partner who could use his own sick time to take care of me. I know that not everyone has these things available. There are people who are ill, or have family members who are not well and don’t have many options. When I fell, my husband was able to rush home from work and take care of me. He used sick time and spent the next day at home with me. How fortunate we both were. This is not a possibility for many people who have to choose between their jobs and spending time helping their loved one heal. This includes parents whose children are chronically ill, people with family members who are going through cancer treatments, and other circumstances that calls for family members to help each other. Many people have to decide which is more important - their health or the ability to pay their rent. These are impossible choices that only make people feel more sick, less productive, and full of worry. 

Paid family leave would give people peace of mind, which is invaluable. This would allow us to take care of our families and ourselves. The despair of having to choose between our job security and our loved ones would be diminished. Our level of productivity and commitment to our jobs might even increase, considering that our livelihood wouldn’t be on the line if something were to go wrong. Families are important, and that includes caring for and being cared by our loved ones. In 1990, Connecticut prioritized families by enacting state family and medical leave three years before the federal government passed the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is unpaid time off. Most of Connecticut's workers cannot afford to use FMLA. It’s time for Connecticut to prioritize family again by implementing paid family leave.  

I know, I know- there are concerns about what the implications would be for businesses, in particular, small businesses. The reality is that paid family leave has been in place for 10 years in California, five years in New Jersey and two years in Rhode Island. None of these states has found that paid family leave has affected their businesses adversely. In fact, these states have found that businesses have benefitted by having less turnover and higher employee satisfaction. Also, keep in mind that the paid family leave that is being proposed here in Connecticut is fully funded by employee contributions. The contribution is a half of one percent of a person's wages. This means that this will be treated like an insurance policy that we can contribute to and we can draw from if needed  

Let’s continue to support families in our state! My wishes for you are that you won’t need to use paid family leave, but in the event you do, won’t it be nice knowing that you won’t have to make a choice between your loved ones and your job?  

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Update: On Tuesday, March 8, the Labor and Public Employees Committee held a hearing on SB 221: An Act Concerning Paid Family and Medical Leave. The Campaign for Paid Family Leave, co-chaired by CWEALF, rallied strong support for the bill, including testimony from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. Next, the Committee will meet to discuss and vote on the bill. Stay tuned for action alerts


By Lorena Crespo Morgan, MSW UConn Intern at 9 Mar 2016, 14:45 PM



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