BOSTON- This Saturday, July 30th, Senator Eric Lesser voted to ensure that workers at Massachusetts businesses can take time off for family or medical reasons. S.2446, An Act establishing a family and medical leave and temporary disability leave insurance program, which Senator Lesser co-sponsored, includes a number of initiatives designed to make it possible for workers to care for a family member, a newborn or adopted child, or recover from disease or injury with limited cost to the employer and employee.
“This bill is about putting Massachusetts to work while ensuring that people don’t have to make a decision between keeping their job and having a child or caring for a sick loved one,” said Senator Lesser. “It’s better for businesses to have employees that don’t have to quit when life gets in the way- and it’s better for workers to have the security of steady employment, regardless of their family circumstances.”
The bill establishes a Department of Family and Medical Leave and creates the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund. It requires an employer to restore an employee who has taken leave to their previous position or an equal one (unless severe economic conditions change the company operations). It forbids employers from using an employee’s disability or family leave to affect their right to receive earned vacation and sick time, bonuses, promotions, or other benefit programs before they leave or when they return.
Both workers and employees will pay into the trust fund. By pooling costs and risk together, and with benefits paid by the trust fund created by this bill, small businesses could offer their employees paid leave for just $3 per worker per week.
California and New Jersey have had paid family and medical leave for years, and both workers and businesses report positive effects. Six years after California’s law was implemented, 89 to 99 percent of employers reported that paid family and medical leave had either a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on productivity, profitability/performance, turnover, and employee morale.
Senator Lesser has fought for good jobs with good benefits throughout his first term in office. He also co-sponsored the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the Pay Equity Act. He advocated for IBEW workers’ right to unemployment after the 2016 Verizon Strike, and has won funding for manufacturing training programs to prepare Western Massachusetts youth for the jobs of the future.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.