Published in the Burlington Free Press (11/10/2016)
As a full-time working parent in Burlington, I’m concerned about the challenges faced every day by Vermonters who don’t have access to paid family and medical leave. Many employees are eligible for unpaid family leave, but it remains inaccessible for those who cannot afford to take time off unpaid.
Currently, Vermont is considering implementing a statewide family and medical leave insurance program that would allow Vermonters to have access to paid, job-protected leave, to take time to bond with or care for a newborn, or recover from or care for a family member with a serious long-term illness or injury. Creating a statewide insurance program would not only provide relief to families, but to employers who would no longer have to make the choice about whether or not to provide maternity, paternity or disability leave to their employees. Programs such as this help boost our economy by encouraging talented parents to stay in Vermont’s workforce.
We need to ensure we have systems in place so that Vermonters can balance work and family lives. The reality is that most children live in households with a single parent or with both parents in the workforce. Without job-protected, paid time off, families face an impossible choice between their family and their income.
I look forward to Vermont adopting such a program to help make our communities, families and businesses healthier and more economically secure so that current and future generations can thrive.