“Massachusetts legislators took a bold and welcome step forward for working people, families and businesses in the state yesterday by adopting a smart, strong paid family and medical leave program. When it takes effect, Massachusetts will have one of the best paid family and medical leave programs in the country. The legislature passed the bill with an overwhelming majority, including bipartisan support, as part of a package of reforms that also include an increase in the minimum wage – and now Governor Baker must waste no time signing it into law.
This state’s paid family and medical leave program is badly needed and will help ensure access to paid leave for millions of working people in Massachusetts, many of whom are currently forced to make unacceptable choices when welcoming a new child, dealing with a personal or family member’s serious health issue or caring for an injured servicemember. The paid leave plan the legislature approved yesterday would provide up to 12 weeks of family leave and up to 20 weeks of medical leave, all of it job-protected, up to a maximum of 26 weeks per benefit year. Funded by a payroll deduction paid by both employees and employers, it would replace up to 80 percent of workers’ wages up to a certain amount, and 50 percent of their wages above that amount, to a maximum of $850 per week. We are especially pleased that its progressive wage replacement system recognizes the particular challenges lower-wage workers face by replacing a substantial share of their lost income, while still ensuring meaningful benefits for all workers.
Massachusetts is positioned to become the sixth state, plus the District of Columbia, to adopt paid family and medical leave, either with or without Governor Baker’s signature. If the governor chooses not to sign the bill, the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition has the signatures to take the measure to the ballot. We applaud Raise Up Massachusetts, its allies and the thousands of volunteers who have worked so hard to ensure that Massachusetts workers and businesses will win paid leave this year.
Even with state-level progress, however, and with more municipalities and private companies adopting paid family and medical leave, overall access to paid leave in this country is dismal and working people, families and our economy suffer as a result. Across the country, more than 100 million people – or 85 percent of workers – do not have paid family leave through their jobs. More than three in five workers are without paid personal medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance. Disparities in access to paid leave between lower- and higher-wage workers have actually been growing. We urgently need Congress to pass the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act – so all people who work in this country will have the paid leave they need, no matter where they live or what job they hold.”