Ohio lawmakers announce paid family medical leave bill

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Unexpected illnesses, new born children, and a host of other issues sometimes take people away from their jobs for a time.

Right now, their positions with the company they work for are protected by a federal program called Family Medical Leave.

It grants an unpaid leave of absence from their job to care for a loved one, or themselves.

However, the amount of time it provides is not always sufficient to remedy the situation the leave is being taken for; and sometimes the person on leave has to choose to return to work or quit to continue to care for their loved one.

State lawmakers in Ohio want to see that choice virtually eliminated with the creation of a State Paid Family Medical Leave program.

The program would provide people who use it up to $1,000 per week. The exact amount will vary on a per person basis; the formula for which is still being worked out.

There are several guidelines a person would have to meet to be eligible for the program.

First they would have to participate in the program by paying into it and estimated $1-2 per week out of their paychecks.

Employers are not being asked to pay into the fund that will be set up to manage and distribute all the money; however, employers are allowed to pay the employees portion on their behalf.

Employees who do not want to participate will be able to opt out of the program, as will employers who can prove they offer a better program for their employees.

Next, the person will have had to work at least 680 hours over the last year; the equivalent of 17 40-hour work weeks.

Finally, the person would be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new baby; a child; a parent; a spouse; or to care for themselves.

State Representatives Kristin Boggs and Janine Boyd plan to introduce the measure into the Ohio House of Representatives in late February or early March after an extended amount of time for co-sponsors to sign onto the bill.

A Senate version of the bill will also be introduced by State Senator Charleta Tavares.

The lawmakers say that this will help businesses attract and keep talent here in Ohio, while giving employees the help they need in what can be a very trying time financially.

It is designed to get the employees back to work as quickly as possible while not forcing them to choose between returning to work and caring for a loved one or themselves due to financial pressures.

They also believe that it will reduce turnover for businesses that experience such a problem as employees exhaust their FML time and make the decision to quit in order to care for their loved one.

The lawmakers are confident the nearly decade worth of data shows that a program like this can work and be sustainable, as several other states have such programs.

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