Pressing Want for Paid Medical Depart Program in Minnesota

Senate Perspectives
Urgent Need for Paid Medical Vacation Programs in Minnesota

By Senator Sandy Pappas, District 65
Over the past year, we have all faced tremendous challenges that have kept us away from our jobs and traditional routines. Whether you’re raising a newborn, caring for a sick child, caring for an older family member, or just recovering from an illness, we all face difficult challenges that require time off from work. Unfortunately, not all Minnesotans have the luxury of taking time off without sacrificing their paychecks.
For many Minnesotans who do not have access to Paid Family and Sick Leave (PFML), an unforeseen family or medical emergency can compel them to choose between risking financial instability or starting work while sick. It can also force new parents to choose between two incomes or to leave one parent at home to care for a newborn.
I understand this choice because I have experienced this challenge first hand. As a young working mom, paid family vacation would have made a huge difference to my family. Instead, my husband and I struggled financially while we sacrificed our labor to raise our three children. To date, thousands of young mothers in Minnesota and the United States have faced the same situation. Paid family and sick leave is a simple and affordable strategy to ensure that those who need time off for medical and family needs can do so without going bankrupt or risking their jobs. But don’t just take my word for it; Take a look at the benefits family and sick leave schemes around the world have to offer.
In Israel, where my daughters live, mothers have 15 weeks of maternity leave while earning 80% of their wages while raising their newborn. They get an additional 11 weeks of unpaid maternity leave if they stay home to spend more time with their child. These generous policies allow mothers to spend more time with their babies in the first few weeks of life, thereby strengthening the mother-child bond that is so important in the early stages of a child’s growth and development.
However, one doesn’t have to look overseas to find an example of the benefits PFML brings to society. Right here in the US, ten states have already approved PFML programs nationwide. In Washington state, new parents can take up to 12 weeks of paid vacation, and mothers with newborn children can take up to 16 weeks of paid vacation while still earning up to 90% of their weekly wages. Washington also offers some flexibility in its PFML program by allowing new parents to take the 12-16 weeks of paid vacation anytime they want over the course of a year.
As Minnesotans, we care for one another. Over the past year, our state has suffered widespread trauma as a result of the pandemic, police violence and subsequent civil unrest. But in every struggle, our communities have come together to support one another around our common values. In difficult times, we understand that it is our duty to help one another. Our state’s family and sick leave policies should reflect the same values ​​that shone so brightly on the darkest days of last year.

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