AARP Connecticut has submitted testimony to the General Assembly's Labor Committee in support of House Bill 5283, AN ACT CONCERNING EXPANSION OF FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE. AARP supports the bill and efforts at both the state and federal level that increase paid leave and cover more workers for longer periods of time so that employees can both attend to their own health needs and care for loved ones. H.B. 5283 expands the family members covered by the law so that an employee may use Family and Medical Leave to care for a parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent or grandchild.
The definition of family, in the minds of most people, certainly includes parent-in-laws, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren. These are the people we care for when they are sick, support so they can age in place and provide for when they face a medical crisis. The law of our state should match the positive realities of our society and encourage family members to care for one another.
AARP’s efforts on behalf of family caregivers is extensive: supporting legal and system reforms; programs and services; and an array of trusted free supports and resources on our website. Some examples of our local CT work include: the appointment of AARP State Director Nora Duncan to the Family Medical Leave Insurance Taskforce which will report recommendations in Fall 2014; organizing a conference for unpaid family caregivers in June 2014; and advocacy for respite programs and additional caregiver supports.
Any argument that the expansion of the law is bad for business or the economy is tempered by the facts. Support of the family caregiver has a trickle-down effect that is good for our economy and our society. In Connecticut, there were more than 711,000 family caregivers who gave 465 million hours of free home care worth $5.8 billion in 2009. While AARP is in the process of updating these statistics, it is likely that the numbers have only increased, due to our aging population and increased healthcare costs. When family caregivers are supported, they are better able to provide free care, reducing the incidences and costs of hospitalizations and institutional care - something the business community, advocates and families all agree makes for good, common-sense policy.
AARP encourages legislators to support H.B. 5283 and to be as inclusive as possible in our approach to caregiving and Family and Medical Leave policies in Connecticut.