Lawmakers considering statewide paid family leave

Capitol Connection

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Some Virginians are forced to make the choice between keeping their job and caring for their family. Paid family and medical leave proposals in the General Assembly could create a safety net, but not everyone is on board.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D, D-33) would create a statewide insurance program. She says employers and employees would make a contribution of about five dollars each paycheck. An employee with a documented need could take up to 12 weeks off of work and receive up to 80 percent of their salary. The cap on compensation would be under $2 thousand monthly, according to Boysko.

“It gives employees flexibility so that they don’t have to make the difficult decision between caring for themselves or a loved one and losing their job,” Boysko told 8News.

Dr. Shannon Weatherford, a Richmond-based OBGYN, says she had to return to work quickly after she gave birth. She says too many of her patients have to do the same.

“More and more women today are the primary breadwinners,” she said. “I am being asked by many of my patients both postoperatively and after deliveries, if they can return to work quickly. Sometimes they want to return so quickly it might not be in their best medical interest.”

Boysko says the state, not businesses, would compensate employees while they’re out of work. Still, some have concerns about the burden on small businesses.

Del. Margaret Ransone (R, D-99), a member of the House Labor and Commerce Committee, said she plans to vote against the House version of the bill.

“It’s another mandate on small businesses and I trust the employer and employee to have that relationship within their business,” Ransone told 8News.

Aaron Seyedian, owner of Well-Paid Maids, came to the Capitol on Tuesday to advocate for the statewide plan. He said it would be cheaper than the private market plan he currently pays into for his 17 employees.

Seyedian thinks a statewide plan would also improve employee retention. “If you feel your employer respects you and cares for you, you’re more likely to do a great job at work and to stay with that employer for a long time. I think it’s as basic as that,” he said.

Paid family and medical leave bills were heard in House and Senate committees on Tuesday.

If passed, the program is expected to be implemented by January 2023.

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