Mainers share how lack of paid depart impacted well being, compelled robust selections on households

In December 2015 when she was 35 years old, Andrea Berry had a stroke.

The North Yarmouth The resident worked for a small consulting firm that tried to help her recover. However, in late January 2016, the company announced it was no longer possible and Berry lost that job.

With a family to support, however, Berry couldn’t stay unemployed for long and she moved to another position less than three months after her stroke, despite still feeling ill and her doctor advising her not to return to work. “I had to hide my medical history because I needed a job, I had to go back to work,” she said. “We were in a really precarious financial situation.”

This decision had long-lasting health effects. Berry said she still had dizziness and short-term memory loss problems, which her doctor attributes to her returning to work early.

Berry said people shouldn’t have to choose between their health and economic stability, stating that they could have avoided this dilemma had there been a system in Maine that allowed workers to take paid vacation when they need him most.

“A paid family and sick leave plan would have eliminated some of the biggest pressures we had, on top of the stressor of being so sick,” Berry said.

The USA is the only industrial country in the world without a national paid family and sick leave system that encourages it a handful of states to issue their own guidelines.

In Maine, talks about creating such a system were at the fore in 2019 when then House Speaker Sara Gideon tabled a bill that political analysts said would have created one of the best-paid vacation systems in the country. How beacon before reportedThe proposed program would have covered 95 percent of private employees and offered up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and 20 weeks of paid medical or military leave. The statement died in 2020 when Legislature postponed early because of the pandemic.

Now proponents in Maine are rekindling the fight, arguing that the pandemic has provided even more reasons to put in place a system that allows workers to take significant time off for medical or family reasons.

However, these efforts are taking a different form this legislature as groups come up with a bill setting up a commission to develop a paid family and sick leave program. LD 1559The commission, which was heard in a public hearing before the Working and Housing Committee on May 7th, would request that it submit a “report of its findings and recommendations, including legislation on proposals” for consideration by January 15, 2022 second part of the report presented in the 130th legislative period. The move is sponsored by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry (D-Cumberland).

“Will nothing be different?”

Logan Mills, community organizer for the Maine Women’s Lobby, said the student bill is an important first step towards the ultimate goal of a paid family and sick leave system that works for Maine.

He said the need for such a system was clear.

“Taking care of your family or looking after yourself is real work … that you should do without getting into financial uncertainty,” he said.

Mills said the state supported workers through a law on paid time off that was registered 2019. However, he said the law is more about insuring workers who need a day of sickness because of a short-term illness such as a cold. Paid family and sick leave would be for those welcoming a child or people who need to take significant time off work to recover from a health problem or care for the health of a loved one in other states Advantage used.

The House’s spokeswoman at the time, Sara Gideon, testifies about paid family and sick leave in 2019 | Beacon photo

The details of how such a system would work in Maine will be outlined by the commission when LD 1559 is approved. However, Mills said the basic idea is that paid family and medical leave could act as a government-administered fund that everyone pays into. If an employee has to take leave, he can claim this benefit from the state, which means that his employer does not have to pay his salary during that time.

“The point is that it gives companies financial flexibility while also providing financial security for employees,” he said.

Emily Ingwersen, a small business owner from Arundel, commended the move in a testimonial presented for Friday’s hearing on the draft study, saying LD 1559 offers the opportunity to develop a paid family and sick leave program “specifically tailored to the needs of Maine and Maine tailored is his people. ”

Ingwersen also told the committee about her experience of not having paid vacation as a working parent.

“My husband and I ran our own business when we had our second child and we had to get back to work right away. So we had to take a newborn to various construction sites while we waited for a daycare place to open,” she said. “Without paid vacation, we couldn’t reduce the number of projects we accepted because we simply couldn’t afford to sustain financial success.”

Kimberly Simmons, associate professor of women and gender studies at the University of Southern Maine, added that the pandemic has made the need for paid family and sick leave even clearer.

Since the crisis began, Simmons said the lack of a paid vacation system in Maine has “made it nearly impossible for working parents who may not have the flexibility or financial resources to devote time to work to comply with quarantine guidelines or Follow Isolation “quarantine or get vaccinated.

Simmons also linked the problem to gender inequality among women serve more often as family carers as men and millions of women to be expelled of the workforce during the COVID-19 crisis.

Part of the problem, Simmons said, is the narrative that good mothers will always find a way to care for their child, no matter the obstacle. However, Simmons said the term was used to bypass discussions about the burden the current lack of support puts on parents and their children.

Simmons remembered desperately seeking support when she was a mother with young children. Little has changed since then for those struggling, she said.

“My oldest daughter is 21,” said Simmons. “Will nothing be different for you?”

Pre-pandemic assistance needed

Even before the pandemic, the importance of a paid family and sick leave system was clear in Maine, proponents said.

When Elisabeth Paine from Phippsburg was 50, her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which forced her to leave the staff to look after him until he passed away six years later.

Paine said it is extremely difficult for women aged 50 to 60 to return and find another job if they leave the workforce for a few years. A paid family and sick leave system would mean fewer people would have to choose between their job prospects and caring for a loved one, she said.

“It makes a lot more sense for the state to support the spouse with public money so they can stay in the job market,” and continue to save for retirement, Paine said.

Elinor Lisa, founder of the Facebook group Paid Leave for ME, said she realized the need for paid family vacation and medical leave after trying to heal the injuries sustained in childbirth. While Lisa had access to support and was financially stable, she said that many other parents clearly don’t.

Lisa added that her son spent four weeks in the newborn intensive care unit after he was born. “And I remember sitting in the hospital parents ‘dining room and hearing mothers say,’ I’ve been on all of my maternity leave in the hospital and by the time I get my child home I have to go back to work. ‘”

Berry said these types of stories, along with her own experience, demonstrate the widespread benefits of a paid family and sick leave system.

“If we can put our health and safety and the health and safety of our families before paying our bills, we will become a stronger community, a healthier community and people will remain the workforce,” she said.

Top photo: Elinor Lisa and her children. | Courtesy of Paid Leave for ME Facebook group

Comments are closed.