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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL)

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Rep. Winkler Introduces Paid Family Leave Act

Thursday, February 5, 2015
ST. PAUL – Today, on the 22nd anniversary of President Bill Clinton signing the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) introduced a bill to provide paid family leave for Minnesota workers. HF 580 would provide up to six weeks of partial wage replacement (ranging from 95% to 66% based on median family income) up to a maximum of $1,000 per week during leave associated with pregnancy, parenting or care of a seriously ill family member.
“It is time that Minnesotans who work hard are able to make ends meet during a pregnancy, while parenting a new baby or while caring for a sick family member. Taking care of our families should not come second to our employment and people who work have earned the time needed to take care of their children or a sick loved one,” said Rep. Winkler.
The weekly benefit provided by the Paid Family Leave Act would be financed through a .1% employee payroll deduction up to $78,000 matched by employers. For the average Minnesota worker this would amount to about $32 per year or $.61 per week. The employer’s investment would be the same with a maximum contribution of $78 per employee per year, totaling $156 for both the employee and employer contributions. Most workers would receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage while on leave.
The Paid Family Leave Act would make it easier for parents to care for new children. Currently, only about 14% of workers have access to paid parental leave. The legislation would also make it easier for new mothers to stay in the workforce—potentially reducing MFIP and unemployment compensation costs for mothers who have to choose between working and caring for a newborn. In addition, paid leave would provide crucial support when a family member becomes seriously ill—including children, spouses, parents, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, and parents of a spouse.
“Minnesota should pass this law to join other states in recognizing the importance of balancing work and family by providing paid family leave. And we would join much of the rest of the world in providing paid maternal leave. In fact, we’d join every country aside from Papua New Guinea,” said Rep. Winkler.  
This legislation builds on the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) by providing partial compensation, allowing an employee to care for an expanded list of family members and applying to small employers who do not currently need to provide unpaid leave. The FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave, protects worker benefits and ensures that an employee may return to his or her job after their leave is completed. The FMLA does not allow leave to care for an adult child who is not mentally or physically disabled or for a spouse’s parent.
The Paid Family Leave Act is supported by a growing coalition of community organizations, called Minnesotans for Paid Family Leave, including the Children’s Defense Fund, Center on Women and Public Policy, Gender Justice, ISAIAH and AARP.
The bill will be formally introduced during the House floor session today at 3:30pm.