Paid Family Leave Insurance
Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition engages in advocacy for Paid Family Leave (PFL), an established Family Leave Insurance program (FLI). The Family Leave Insurance program would require employees to make contributions into a trust fund to provide employees with family leave insurance benefits in order to care for a designated person.
At some point, most people will need to take time off work to address a personal or family member’s illness, or to care for a newborn child or aging parents. However, the United States is one of three countries in the world without Paid Maternity Leave, and is one of the only developed countries without Paid Family Leave.
Nationally, fewer than 50 percent of workers in the United States have access to personal medical leave, and only 12 percent have access to paid family leave (most often given to workers in the top 25 percent of their industry.) Although millions of American workers have caregiving responsibilities for both young children and aging parents, a majority cannot afford to take unpaid medical or family leave. The problem may worsen over time, as the population over the age of 65 in the United States will be 20.2 percent by the year 2050.
Currently, Hawaii employees have no access to Paid Family Leave, yet approximately 247,000 people in Hawaii serve as unpaid caregivers. The problem is compounded by the fact that Hawaii has the fastest-growing age 65+ population in the Nation, and 63 percent of Hawaii’s children are part of a family where all parents work. A majority of Hawaii’s workforce cannot afford to take unpaid family leave, putting many families’ economic security in jeopardy. Because of this, Hawaii’s state legislature found that Hawaii’s working families are NOT sufficiently supported during times of caregiving and sickness.
Currently, the alternatives to Paid Family Leave for families in Hawaii are:
Family & Medical Leave Act (1993)
Allows up to 12 weeks of UNPAID leave, per year, to care for oneself or a family member
Employee must have worked at this company for at least 1 year and the company must have 50+ employees
Fewer than 50 percent of workers in the United States are qualified for this leave
A majority of Americans cannot afford to take FMLA
Hawaii Family Leave Law
Allows up to 4 weeks of UNPAID leave, per year, to care for oneself or a family member
Employee must have worked at this company for at least 6 months and the company must have 100+ employees within Hawaii
A majority of Hawaii’s workforce cannot afford to take this unpaid leave
Paid Family Leave: provided by private employer
The employee’s private employer must agree to provide Paid Family Leave to its employees
Only 12% of Americans have access to this type of Paid Family Leave
Family Leave Insurance Benefits Everyone
Families and employers alike benefit from Family Leave Insurance. Women are more likely to return to work after giving birth when Paid Family Leave is in place, increasing worker retention and reducing turnover. Paid Family Leave is associated with a 20 percent decrease in infant mortality and improvements in child health, and parents are less likely to use and rely on public assistance benefits. Adults would also be able to provide quality aid to family members when met with serious illness. With only 0.4 percent of workers away from work and out on parental leave in an average week in the US, Family Leave Insurance National Family Leave Insurance would benefit not only workers and their families, but businesses and the economy as well!
Implementing a Family Leave Insurance program would allow an employee to take 12 weeks during a year for their own serious health conditions, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery, or to care for the serious health condition of a family member. The wages paid while on Paid Family Leave would come from an insurance program funded by small payroll contributions from employees’ weekly wages. The monies accessed during leave would not exceed 55 percent of the employee’s weekly wages.
Legislation for Paid Family Leave
In 2018, the Hawaii Paid Family Leave Coalition will introduce another bill to establish a Family Leave Insurance policy in Hawaii. The coalition is advocating strongly for this bill, but we need your help!
Many bills have been proposed in the Hawaii legislature in prior years to establish a family leave insurance program, but did not pass: S.B. 2961, S.B. 2477, H.B. 1911, H.B. 2128. The purpose of these bills was to ensure Hawaii employees received family leave insurance benefits during times when they needed to provide care for their families. The proposed insurance consisted of employee contributions based on an employee’s average weekly wages. The trust fund provided a “covered individual” with up to 12 weeks (during any calendar year) of paid family leave for a “designated person”.
How to Get Involved
You can help by submitting testimony in support of a Family Leave Insurance policy in Hawaii. Submitting testimony is a very important part in helping bills pass through legislation. Having public support through testimony can influence committees to vote for bills that the public wants.
The steps to submit testimony to the Hawaii State Legislature are simple:
1. Go to www.capitol.hawaii.gov
2. Create an account
3. After creating an account, you can submit testimony for any bill by going to the bill’s page and clicking on the blue “Submit Testimony” box. You will then be directed to a page where you enter your information and can submit your testimony.
Please support Family Leave Insurance and help Hawaii’s families remain healthy and economically secure.