Monday, December 30, 2013

Rhode Island starts paid family leave law; CA law documented; "moral hazard" controversy over paid family leave continues

Rhode Island, starting Jan. 1, will require employers to allow workers several weeks of paid family leave for childbirth (or adoption) or to take care of seriously ill relatives (usually elderly parents).
Brigid Schulte has a story in the Washington Post Monday, p A3, link here
This article appears to discuss state laws that would apply to all employers, not just state and municipal public employees.
There is very little movement in this area at the federal level.
There would be objection in that people who do not have children are subsidizing those who do (including their marital sex).  But paid family leave has been common in most western European countries for years without causing a controversy about “moral hazard”.  Furthermore, the laws would protect workers with ill parents, and the childless or only children are more likely to need the benefit when applied to caring for aging parents.

Paid family leave could be a bigger for salaried exempt workers.  If someone can't come to work (and doesn't continue working at home), others might have to work more hours, sacrificially, without compensation at all. 
Paid family leave could have been very helpful to me in 1999, when my own mother suddenly needed coronary bypass surgery, although the decision to do the surgery was viewed controversial at the time by some of her doctors.  We hired home health aides to do the eldercare, after two weeks in an SNF nursing home for rehab, where she was put at risk by carelessness by staff with respect to medical instructions.  I’ll probably come back to this incident again in future posts.
California’s Paid Family Leave Law from 2010 (up to 55% of pay to a maximum benefit) is described here by Kerianne Steele. 
In California, job protection still comes from the FMLA or the CFRA (regular family leave) law, and health benefits are not automatically covered. It's interesting that the California law will allow time to bond with a biological, natural or even foster child. 

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