State Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL-49B, Eden Prairie) said she is a “proud co-author” of Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) legislation for the third biennium in a row.
The Minnesota Legislature (HF2/SF2) is considering a PFML bill, which would establish a state-run insurance program to provide Minnesota workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to an additional 12 weeks of paid medical leave per year.
It aims to support individuals who require long-term leave, whether to care for a new baby, an ill family member or recover from an illness or injury.
While the DFL-led House has supported the bill in the past, the House and Senate have yet to take a final vote on it this year. She is one of 35 co-sponsors in the House. The Senate version has five co-sponsors.
“The USA is one of the only nations in the world that does not provide some type of universal paid leave program,” she said in an email. “Passing PFML will help the 900,000 Minnesota workers – a third of the workforce – who currently don’t have access to paid leave.”
Kotyza-Witthuhn said that all Minnesotans should have the opportunity to take time off to care for themselves or their loved ones.
She said the proposed plan would be funded by small contributions from both employees and employers, helping “level the playing field for small businesses that would like to offer this benefit so they can better compete for employees.”
According to Kotyza-Witthuhn, she and chamber officials have had ongoing discussions about this proposal.
She said there is much misinformation “floating around” about this bill.
Kotyza-Witthuhn provided clarification on three key points regarding the bill. She said the proposal has existed since before her election in 2018 and has undergone numerous committee hearings and public oversight over the years.
“It is a top priority for Minnesotans and the DFL majorities this year, and we are acting with the urgency this issue deserves,” she said.
In terms of employer contributions, she said they have the option of covering the full amount or splitting the cost with their employees.
For a median worker and their employer, she said the cost is less than $2 per week, while for a minimum wage worker employed by a small business, the cost is $1.05 per week.
And, she added, the vast majority of Minnesotans would only qualify for part of the 24-week benefit in any given year. The plan provides a 12-week family leave for bonding with a new child or children and a 12-week medical leave for caring for oneself or a family member.
Kotyza-Witthuhn said research shows that providing support and job security to employees who take time off to care for loved ones can lead to longer-term retention, particularly during a time when many businesses are struggling to fill vacancies.
“This proposal will also help increase the number of women and parents in the workforce, helping alleviate the worker shortage many businesses are facing,” she said.
More to read: U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips addressed the proposed state Paid Family and Medical Leave program among other issues during a recent Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
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