Bill Insures Workers Can Take Time to Deal With New Baby, Injury or Illness

Salem, Ore. – The paid family and Medical leave insurance bill moves on to the House Committee on Revenue. HB 3087, will ensure all working Oregonians have paid time away from work to welcome a new child, to recover from a serious illness or to care for a sick loved one.

House Bill 3087 — co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson and Representatives Alonso Leon, Hernandez and Keny-Guyer and others — will create a paid family and medical leave insurance program available to every employed Oregonian.

“We applaud the House Committee’s decision to move HB 3087 to the next step in the legislative process,” said Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward Oregon and Chair of the Time For Oregon Coalition. “Oregon families need the security of knowing that their elected leaders are hearing from them and recognizing their need for this important program.”

Currently, only 14 percent of workers across the nation have access to paid family and medical leave at work, and only 40 percent have access to a short-term disability policy on the job. Federal and Oregon laws currently provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for some workers — however, these laws do not apply to all workers and they do not help with lost income. In addition, many family members are excluded by workplace and economic policies that fail to recognize the majority of families who don’t fit the nuclear model of a married mother and father and their biologically related children.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the bottom quarter of wage earners only 5 percent have access to paid family leave compared to 21 percent of those in the highest quarter. These workers are disproportionately women and people of color, who are also the most likely to take on the care of an ill relative to avoid the cost of other forms of care.

“I gave birth to my beautiful daughter but soon after found out she needed extra stay in the NICU,” said Amy Powers, a parent from Beaverton. “My husband and I were extremely stressed and heartbroken to be discharged from the hospital without Aubrey. I had no family leave, no benefits, and no financial support from my employer. We couldn’t afford to be at home to take care of my daughter. I returned to work part-time after a very short 4 weeks of unpaid time off. My family just could not afford for me to take any more unpaid time off. To this day, my biggest regret is that I did not spend enough time with my newborn daughter.”

The proposed legislation creates a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program that will be:

● A self-sustaining insurance program administered by the state;

● Structured as a social insurance program, like Social Security or Unemployment Insurance;

● Funded by a shared contribution by employers and employees, each providing a small percent of payroll to a state-managed insurance fund that will administer the program;

● A way for employees to receive partial income replacement when they need family or medical leave; and

● Inclusive of more families, defined as individuals related “by blood or affinity” — to better reflect Oregon’s diverse family structures and caring relationships.

The bill will move onto the House Revenue committee, the next needed step in the legislative process for this type of program.