This coming Wednesday, April 8, the Oregon Senate Commerce and Workforce Development Committee will be holding a hearing on Senate Bill 966, which will provide paid family leave insurance to Oregon workers. This is a valuable opportunity to help put Oregon at the forefront of family friendly policies.
There’s one aspect of this bill, however, that needs emphasis. A lot of emphasis. This bill is about you. Oh, wait…you’re not a pregnant woman? Well, it’s still about you. Your parent doesn’t have Alzheimer’s? Great, but it’s still about you. You don’t have a child with a chronic disease? Thank God, but it’s still about you. It’s a bill that can affect every Oregonian who has a family member.
Oregon Family Leave Insurance will provide $300 per week for up to 6 weeks for time off to care for a new child or ill or injured family member. It will be paid for by a 2 cent per hour payroll deduction, up to $42 a year for the average worker. By providing partial wage replacement, Oregon Family Leave Insurance will enable many families to be at home when they are really needed.
So why is it about you? If you have a brother or sister who is in a car accident, this bill allows you to care for them. If you are a business owner who is struggling to provide benefits to your employees, this bill gives you a hand. If you have a parent who is aging, but is still healthy, this bill gives you a piece of mind to know that if the situation changes, you will have a bit of help. If you have grown children, because of this bill, you will know that if they decide to have a child themselves, they will have some support.
In fact, it is predicted, particularly in the face of an aging population, that up to one half of us will be a caregiver within the next five years, if we aren't already.
Not many of us can take a number of weeks off of work to care for a family member, and we never really know what may come along tomorrow to change our lives forever. In recognition of this, there is a long list of leaders and organizations that have joined the fight for paid family leave, from Children First to the AFL-CIO to the Oregon Nurses Association to the March of Dimes.
If you can join the effort in Salem this Wednesday, great! Folks are meeting on the capitol steps at 2:30, and then going inside for the hearing at 3:00. If you can’t make it, please, take a minute to call your legislators and ask them to support this bill. Go here for more info. Do it for yourself.