Submitted by Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford)
The sponsor of the Massachusetts House bill to bring paid family and medical leave to all workers in Massachusetts, Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford), joined U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Co-Chairman of the Joint Committee Labor and Workforce Development John Scibak (D-South Hadley), and Senate Co-Sponsor Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) at Cambridge startup Tamr, Inc. to discuss the issues surrounding the proposed program.
Secretary Perez was also joined by leaders from Cambridge universities and business groups, as well as Beth Monaghan, CEO of Waltham’s InkHouse PR, to discuss the employers’ paid family leave program as well as the legislator’s proposal for a state-wide program. Undersecretary Chris Lu preceded the Secretary in February when he came to the State House in February to share the same encouragement for the proposed Massachusetts program.
“Paid family leave is a necessity for Massachusetts workers and families, and a good deal for employers,” said Gordon. “It provides a fund where workers who must take leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, or for a seriously ill child or parent, or for their own illness or injury. While the worker is out on leave, the employer can use the funds that would have paid that worker’s salary to pay a replacement worker so that productivity is not affected. Everyone wins with this program.”
Gordon explained how Tamr came to the decision to offer a generous paid leave program to compete with the top California high-tech companies, all of whom offer paid leave as a matter of California law. “It is not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense,” said Tamr’s Nikolaus Bates-Haus at the forum.
The program would provide workers with a portion of their income for up to 26 weeks for their own illness or injury, and up to 12 weeks to care for a child or spouse under certain conditions. It would protect the employee’s job while out on leave. Job protection currently applies only to companies with more than 50 employers, and comes with no wage replacement.“The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development has spent a lot of time going over this proposed legislation in an attempt to find the best paid leave system, both for workers and for businesses,” said Chair Scibak. “We are close to reaching a resolution.”