Paid family and medical leave insurance program

Proposition 118 would create a statewide paid family and medical leave program for workers who’ve earned at least $2,500. The program would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave in most cases, and 16 weeks in the event of pregnancy or childbirth complications. Payments would come from a state-run insurance fund. In workplaces with 10 people or more, workers and employers would each contribute to the fund — at a rate of 0.9% of an employee’s wages — but employers in workplaces of nine or fewer people would be exempt from having to contribute to the premium. Companies with their own programs that meet criteria could opt out.

The case for: Paid family and medical leave would allow workers to stay at home longer with their newborns, care for loved ones in need, or simply prioritize their own health. Without paid leave, workers are often under pressure to return to work more quickly or not to take time off at all. Research has shown that paid leave programs expand employment opportunities and contribute positively to the state economy.

The case against: Workers would be forced to pay into a program that they may never need. That may be especially problematic in a recession, as many individuals and families are having a harder time covering their expenses. Many businesses are struggling, too, and Proposition 118 would add another cost during an uncertain time. Depending on how much the program generates, premium rates may be raised from 0.9% to 1.2%. And while the ballot measure allows certain businesses to opt out, doing so may be complicated and expensive.

Ballot question: “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the creation of a paid family and medical leave program in Colorado, and, in connection therewith, authorizing paid family and medical leave for a covered employee who has a serious health condition, is caring for a new child or for a family member with a serious health condition, or has a need for leave related to a family member’s military deployment or for safe leave; establishing a maximum of 12 weeks of family and medical leave, with an additional 4 weeks for pregnancy or childbirth complications, with a cap on the weekly benefit amount; requiring job protection for and prohibiting retaliation against an employee who takes paid family and medical leave; allowing a local government to opt out of the program; permitting employees of such a local government and self-employed individuals to participate in the program; exempting employers who offer an approved private paid family and medical leave plan; to pay for the program, requiring a premium of 0.9% of each employee’s wages, up to a cap, through December 31, 2024, and as set thereafter, up to 1.2% of each employee’s wages, by the director of the division of family and medical leave insurance; authorizing an employer to deduct up to 50% of the premium amount from an employee’s wages and requiring the employer to pay the remainder of the premium, with an exemption for employers with fewer than 10 employees; creating the division of family and medical leave insurance as an enterprise within the department of labor and employment to administer the program; and establishing an enforcement and appeals process for retaliation and denied claims?”

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