Should Massachusetts have paid family and medical leave?

Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York already have laws that provide paid family and medical leave

BOSTON (WWLP)—Five states have paid family and medical leave, and Massachusetts is not one of them. Lawmakers are considering a bill to bring paid leave to Massachusetts.

Lawmakers have tried, but failed to pass paid family and medical leave since the mid-2000s. With bigger support now, they said this is the year.

More than 100 residents gathered at the State House Tuesday to fight for workers rights. Workers are calling on lawmakers to support bills to establish paid family and medical leave—a right working mother Jennifer Rogers told 22News she had in the UK, where her child was born. The UK offers up to a year of maternity leave, more than 30 weeks of that is paid time off.

“You can stay off for the year, knowing that you have a position to go back to,” Rogers said.

Massachusetts currently allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Under this bill, workers would receive up to $1,000 in benefits a week to recover from serious illness or injury, nurse a sick family member or care for a new child. Employees get up to 12 weeks of paid leave in the House proposal and 16 weeks in the Senate plan, paid for by both the employer and employees.

Business owners are concerned the proposals may put a financial strain on their company and diminish their workforce. But Carl Nilsson of Raise Up Massachusetts told 22News

“You’ll be able to hold onto your trained employees who otherwise would have to leave the workforce in an event like this,” Nilsson said.

The state’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development is reviewing the bill and plans to take business concerns in mind.

“We would create maybe a baseline paid family medical leave that won’t hurt too many businesses and still provide access to pay their bills and not lose their job,” said State Rep. Aaron Vega, (D) Holyoke, a member of the committee.

At the end of the last legislative session, the Senate passed a paid family and medical leave bill, but it died in committee.

Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York already have laws that provide paid family and medical leave.