On January 15, State Senators Sue Crawford and Machaela Cavanaugh introduced LB 311, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act. AARP strongly supports this measure to offer employed family caregivers paid leave from their jobs to care for their loved ones. Nearly two in three family caregivers in the workforce are caring for a relative age 65 or older. We believe that Nebraskans should be able to care for their family members without worrying about losing their income.
Importantly, the bill also provides workers paid leave to care for a new child or to take care of their own health.
Here is what’s in the bill and an explanation of how it will work in Nebraska:
Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act
Prepared by State Senator Sue Crawford
Paid Family and Medical Leave makes sense for Nebraska.
Nebraskans value our families and our workers who contribute to a growing economy and thriving communities. For most of us, the well-being of our children, spouses, family members and loved ones is our top priority. Many of us have provided or will need to provide care to a loved one at some point in our lives–and for some of us, it will be our own health that requires extra care. Paid family and medical leave (PFML) provides workers with the time and wages they need to deal with some of life’s most special or difficult moments so that we can retain a skilled workforce, healthy children, and strong families. The private market has not stepped up to provide family and medical leave: only about 16% of workers have access to PFML.
➢ It will strengthen our workforce.
Attracting and retaining workforce is the most critical economic issue Nebraska faces in 2019. PFML is one compelling way to draw the best and brightest to our state. Workers will know that if they come to or stay in Nebraska, they’ll have the time they need to care for their families and themselves, and we will be helping businesses to offer recruitment incentives.
➢ It’s good for businesses.
In states that have implemented paid family leave programs, evidence shows that PFML increases productivity, retention and morale, and has either positive or no impact on small and large businesses’ bottom lines.1 An employee-paid PFML program will level the playing field for small businesses who cannot afford to offer the same generous benefits available at larger companies, allowing them to compete for talent.
➢ It’s good for workers and families.
70% of workers report taking less time off than they need because they can’t afford to lose more wages.2
Child care providers in Nebraska are prohibited from accepting children less than 6 weeks of age. This leaves parents who can’t afford to take six weeks unpaid without any options for childcare. Paid leave gives parents vital time to establish a strong bond with the child in the first months of life, resulting in long term benefits for both parent and child, including better health outcomes3 and improved cognitive function among both children and parents who had access to paid leave.4
As Nebraska’s population ages, more of us will have to care for an aging parent. The population aged 65 and over is expected to grow by 75% over the next 20 years.5 A study of California’s paid leave program found that paid family leave reduced usage of elderly nursing homes by 11%.6
How it Works:
❏ Employees who are covered by unemployment insurance (about 95%) would be covered.
❏ The program is funded by contributions from covered employers. Employers who wish to provide comparable coverage on their own can opt-out.
❏ Employees are paid a portion of wages on a sliding scale, up to ⅔ of the state average weekly wage or $564.
❏ Funds for startup costs for the program are borrowed and then repaid to the Health Care Cash Fund as soon as sufficient funds are accrued within two years.
❏ An employee must be able to return to the same or substantially similar job on their return from leave.
❏ Employer contributions begin January 1, 2021 and benefits begin July 1 2021.
❏ Includes time for family members to attend to various needs that might arise as a result of a spouse or family member’s preparing to deploy for or return from military service.
Leave Can be Taken:
❖ Care for a family member with a serious health condition
❖ Care for a military family member preparing for or returning from deployment
❖ Care for a new child
❖ Care for self due to serious health condition, including pregnancy-related complications
● Once the employee has worked the job for 26 weeks.
● Intermittently in one day increments.
➢ Family includes domestic partner, spouse, biological, foster, step or adopted child or parent, spouse’s parent, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.
1. Appelbaum, E. & Milkman, R. (2013). Unfinished business: Paid family leave in California and the future of U.S. work-family policy. Cornell University Press, Ithaca. See also http://cepr.net/documents/publications/paid-family-leave-1-2011.pdf
2. Pew Research Center. (2017). Support for paid leave policies. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/support-for-paid-leave-policies/
3. Lichtman-Sadot, S. & Pillay Bell, N. (2017). Child health in elementary school following California’s paid family leave
4. Kossen, J. (2013). Building a secure and healthy start: Family leave in the early years. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/448-building-a-secure-and-healthy-start-family-leave-in-the-early-years
5. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). State Unit on Aging four year state plan 2012-2015. https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/livable-communities/plan/planning/nebraska-state-plan-on-aging-2012-2015-aarp.pdf
6. Arora, K. (2017). Does paid family leave reduce nursing home use? https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/pam.22038