Rhode Island Governor Signs Paid Family and Medical Leave into Law

Photo from Family Values at Work http://www.familyvaluesatwork.org

Families in Rhode Island will now have access to paid family and medical leave thanks to new legislation signed into law by Governor Chafee this week.

Championed by We Care Rhode Island and Family Values at Work, Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregivers Insurance (TCI) allows workers to take paid time off when welcoming a newborn, caring for an ailing family member or recovering from a personal illness. Qualifying workers will receive two-thirds of their weekly wages for up to four weeks.

The program will be funded by minute employee contributions. For an employee making $40,000 a year, it will only cost forty-six cents a week. California and New Jersey have similar paid leave programs, and studies show the policies benefit families and business. Paid leave improves employee retention and lowers turnover costs. Research also shows that parents using paid leave are less likely to become dependent on public assistance, more likely to stay employed and earn higher wages over time.

Washington lawmakers passed paid family and medical leave insurance in 2007, but the program has been delayed through three budget cycles. During the 2013 legislative session, EOI’s Washington Work and Family Coalition (WWFC) advocated for the program’s full implementation, but the republican-controlled state Senate worked against Washington families and attempted to repeal the law all together. WWFC successfully defeated conservatives’ efforts, but lawmakers once again voted to postpone implementation funding.

It’s time for lawmakers to stand with Washington families and launch paid family and medical leave insurance. August 5th marks the 20th anniversary of FMLA – the federal statute that guarantees most workers job-protection and unpaid leave for family and medical reasons. But for many workers, taking weeks of unpaid time off isn’t an option. Washington’s paid family and medical leave program would ensure that every family in Washington has access to paid leave while only costing the average worker ninety-six cents a week.

Washington’s paid family and medical leave program is good for families and good for business. Legislators need to hear from their constituents that paid leave is a priority for their family. Take a moment to contact them today, and challenge lawmakers to support working families during the 2014 legislative session.

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