State Reps. Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) introduced a proposal today to create Ohio’s first-ever paid family and medical leave insurance program. The bill would allow all Ohio workers to continue earning a portion of their pay during a family medical emergency or the birth or adoption of a new baby. Also participating in today’s announcement were Columbus City Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, small business owner Gail Dudley, and Innovation Ohio President Keary McCarthy.
“Working families in Ohio shouldn’t have to choose between earning a paycheck and protecting their families,” said Kuhns. “The birth of a child or a loved one falling ill should not throw the entire family into hardship if a parent needs to take time off of work to be a caretaker.”
According to a 2015 report by Innovation Ohio, access to paid leave policies can help reduce gender and economic disparities, increase worker productivity, strengthen regional economies and improve critical health outcomes such as reducing infant mortality rates. The report noted that access to paid leave has decreased deaths in the first month of life by 2.6 percent and in the first year of life of life by 4.1 percent.
“As Ohio continues to lose more babies before their first birthday than almost every other state in the nation, paid family leave is a thoroughly pro-life policy that will have positive health impacts for women and children,” said Boyd. “Putting families first means giving parents and babies time to recover, adjust to new routines, access follow-up medical care and bond without the fear of economic insecurity. Doing so will lead to a happier, healthier, and more productive Ohio.”
The Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program would allow workers with qualifying life events– from Ohio’s smallest businesses to the largest corporations –the ability to continue earning a portion of their salary when taking leave from work for a serious health condition, a family member with a serious health condition or to care for a the birth or adoption of a new child. The bill is modeled after legislation that was introduced in Colorado, which requires employees to pay premiums into a fund through a paycheck deduction to be administered by their employer.
The United States is the only developed country in the world that does not require some form of guaranteed, legally protected paid parental leave. New York state passed the most robust paid family leave law in the country last week, providing partial compensation during 12 weeks of approved leave. Other states that have adopted paid family leave laws are California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington. In Ohio, Dayton and Cincinnati have both passed paid leave policies that cover city workers.