Coalition pushes Vt. lawmakers for more expansive family leave bill

(WCAX)
Published: Jan. 6, 2020 at 4:54 PM EST
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Vermont lawmakers will return to Montpelier Tuesday and one of their top priorities is another attempt at passing a paid family and medical leave bill. But one group of business owners and lawmakers doesn't think the the plan goes far enough.

House lawmakers will look at granting 12 weeks of leave per parent or eight weeks of family care funded by a 2 percent payroll tax and costing of $31 Million.

The 'Vermont Family and Medical Leave Insurance Coalition' wants to go further, creating a mandatory plan which gives personal medical leave to Vermonters. They also also want both parents to have equal access to benefits of the program. The group says women leave the workforce at higher rates to take care of children. They want the paid family and medical leave program to be administered through state government so it's more transparent and isn't profit driven.

Coalition members say a greater commitment to a paid family leave will ultimately help grow business. "It costs a lot of money to recruit hire and train workers. That tremendous retention of employees who came back after the throws of parenthood is really good for our business," said Duane Peterson, president of Suncommon.

Governor Phil Scott has his own paid leave plan which is optional for employers. He argues that a mandatory plan will put a burden on businesses and raise insurance rates. In the governor's plan, the employer negotiates directly with the insurance company to get their premiums in place.