Proposed ballot question would expand paid leave in Massachusetts

BOSTON (WWLP) – 1.2 million workers in Massachusetts risk losing their jobs if they take time off from work to care for a sick family member or a new child.

Lawmakers are considering several bills to give workers paid family and medical leave, but a grassroots coalition plans to take this issue directly to voters on the 2018 ballot.

The initiative being advanced by Raise Up Massachusetts calls for up to 16 weeks of job-protected paid leave to care for a new child or family member with a serious illness or injury. The proposal also gives up to 26 weeks of paid leave for personal illness or injury.

Advocates hope to pass paid leave through the voters if the Legislature does not.

“If we have the signatures and they have a deadline, then they have to make a decision one way or another. Whereas, if it is just legislation, they could decide ‘well, we didn’t get to it this time,’ and then people are waiting another two years,” Raise Up Massachusetts co-chair Lew Finfer said.

Under the plan, paid leave would be funded by employer contributions. Companies can also require their workers to contribute up to half of the cost.