Paid Family Leave – This is Your Cause

Kristin Teigen

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.

  • Lisa Frack (unverified)

    Hear, hear. Well said, Kristin. Because it is about all of us - whether we want to believe it, or not. See you Wednesday, everyone!

  • Shane R. (unverified)

    We're expecting our first child in two weeks! And we support paid family leave in Oregon!!!!

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    I was lucky enough to get a partially paid family leave through my employer when I had my first son. It was a lifesaver for us, and allowed time for us to bond as a family without having to worry about paying our mortgage and bills.

    This is a great investment in families and in child and maternal health, frankly, as stress is not good for babies, moms, dads or siblings.

  • christopher (unverified)

    I strongly support paid family leave. There is a lot of talk (especially from wingnuts) about the importance of family, but until you put your money where your mouth is, it's all just talk.

    Here is another opportunity for Oregon to lead.

  • stacy (unverified)

    Having been on a couple sides of this issue, it is so important to support our co-workers, friends, family, and perhaps even ourselves in the future. Life happens and it shouldn't result in you loosing your job, sanity, or taking a serious financial hit.

  • Aviva (unverified)

    This bill is a great start. Realistically, we need much more than six paid weeks for family leave. But I heartily support this bill as a good start.

    I was lucky when I had my daughter that I worked for a company with a union contract that provided 9 paid weeks' leave plus up to 18 months unpaid while they held my job for me. Ultimately, I didn't return to work, but those paid weeks off really helped, and the knowledge that I had a job to return to if I chose was very reassuring for this first-time mom.

    Unfortunately, my husband's employer didn't have anything like that, and when I got sick in 2007, he had to use vacation time and unpaid time to take care of our daughter while I was hospitalized and then came home unable to care for her. It took three weeks to get her into a daycare provider, and with the medical bills coming in from a week in the hospital and many, many expensive tests, we really could have used the boost from a paid family leave. It wouldn't have supported us entirely, but every little bit helps.

    Thanks to those who are working so hard to make this bill a reality.

  • kendra (unverified)

    For our first child, we lived in California which has PFL and other great benefits. I'm nervous about having our second now that we live in Oregon. How will I take care of a (hopefully) nursing newborn and also meet the needs of my demanding 2 year old? I pray this is passed in time for my husband to be able to stay home with us for at least a month.

    I STRONGLY support paid family leave in Oregon.

  • Year of the Rat (unverified)

    How will I take care ...and also meet the needs of my demanding 2 year old?

    Maybe by rearing her to not be demanding? Oh, Moma opted out of that one too, eh?

    Krisitin, you should run for office. Seriously, your style would be appreciated in Salem. How can anyone argue with this? Exactly.

  • Kim Darden (unverified)

    I truely hope Oregon joins California on this very important issue.

  • Jillian Starr (unverified)

    I wholeheartedly support paid family leave!

  • Sharon Bernstein (unverified)

    Thank you for writing this! I hope we pass this bill!

  • rachael spada (unverified)

    Oregonians needs paid family leave!

  • Kim S. (unverified)

    I support paid family leave. It's a great insurance policy for families.

  • Beth (unverified)

    Thank you for all the work on this important issue! I hope Oregon can begin to take the steps to support families in this way.

  • KHeikes (unverified)

    I agree with Aviva, this is a good start. This bill will mostly benefit working-class families facing medical and other life issues requiring their attention. I whole-heartedly support this legislation!

  • Jenny (unverified)

    Agree! People should not have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a family member. Thanks for the story!

  • Andria (unverified)

    Thank you for all the hard work! Shouldn't have to choose between doing what is best for a baby and paying the bills. We borrowed money so I could take a maternity leave and then back to work full time while nursing. Having a child and children is a choice but it should not be an impossible one and no corners should be cut.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    As a small business owner, I support this 100% Given the opportunity, I would gladly pay the $42 for my employees. My only hope would be that small business owners themselves be allowed to participate in the program.

  • christina (unverified)

    I had a very hard time with initiating and sustaining breastfeeding, luckily I had all three months paid by my employer. After a bunch of lactation appointments and some serious feeding time, I was able get it going and eventually was able to pump from 3 months to 1 year. If I had to go back to work after 6 weeks, I can't imagine how I would have been able to continue-I am so very grateful for my leave.

  • Emily Thomas (unverified)

    I support family leave in Oregon! If France can allow parents to take 2 years of family leave, then we can surely allow for this insurance plan. It is an investment in our future to invest in children before the age of 5!

  • Anna S (unverified)

    I agree! This really is, in so many ways, about all of us.

  • Michelle S (unverified)

    Let's do it! Let's make paid family leave a reality. This is so important to working mothers and families!

  • Katie R. (unverified)

    We lived in another state when our baby was born, and my husband got paid family leave in addition to my maternity leave through work. I can't imagine how I would have survived those first few weeks without him at home to help me. We need paid family leave in Oregon!

  • Deborah Kafoury (unverified)

    Thanks, Kristin for bringing this important bill to our attention. I've talked to my legislators and encourage others to do so as well.

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    I'm a big supporter of this bill.

    Also, it's great to see so many names of commenters on this thread that I don't recogonize.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    What about single people? If they care for someone that isn't a spouse, what then?

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)

    This isn't just for the mommies out there. If you have aging parents, it would be great to be able to take time off to help care for them and know you'd have some amount of money coming in.

    That said, we need to work on expanding this idea. I know plenty of single people who have no family at all---their "family" is their circle of friends and it'd be great to eventually pass legislation that would allow people to use a certain amount of Paid Leave to care for ANY other human being, regardless of relationship. Maybe some day....

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    From what I've read of the bill this is a good start. Remember right now the fund would be established through a payroll tax of $0.02/hr paid by all covered employees. This is a fund that the employees would establish themselves, just like California. The eligibility follows the same thresholds as those established for Oregon Family Leave Act, so many who work for small employers would not be covered.

    I question how existing Short Term Disbility Plans would work within this structure, as I read it an otherwise covered employee would not be eligible for the pay if the leave is for their own serious health condition.

  • jen (unverified)

    We support paid family leave in Oregon!

  • Gina (unverified)

    All families deserve paid family leave, especially Oregonians! Help families when they need it most.

  • Vicki (unverified)

    Our family strongly supports paid leave for Oregonians! It isn't fair for families to simply have the right to take leave under the FMLA and Oregon's version, but not get compensated unless they have vacation/sick/personal time saved up. Unfortunately not everyone has the same resources, but anyone can become a parent or someone who needs to take time away from work in order to take care of a loved one. We don't need any added stress!!

  • Tara (unverified)

    I wholeheartedly support paid family leave in Oregon!

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