Submitted by State Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford)
Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) will meet with Deputy US Labor Secretary Christopher Lu and the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau in Washington DC September 27. Gordon will join a Paid Family and Medical Leave Findings Symposium, featuring Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, which is intended to serve as an opportunity for legislators, advocates, and researchers to share the results of new studies and best practices involving paid family and medical leave across the United States.
“Deputy Lu and I have been working together closely for more than a year to consider the best way to bring a paid family and medical leave program to Massachusetts for its workers,” said Rep. Gordon. “I was honored to host the Deputy Secretary in February at the State House for our Lead on Lead Legislative Forum alongside local business leaders, and I am humbled to return to Washington to discuss this matter further with him.”
Rep. Gordon, an employment lawyer, has been advocating tirelessly for the past two years for all Massachusetts workers to have access to paid family and medical leave program. His program is designed to be affordable for all Massachusetts businesses, including the smallest of them. This legislative session, he filed a bill that would create a state wide paid family and medical leave program for all workers employed in the Commonwealth.
The proposed program would provide up to 12 weeks of partial income reimbursement to working parents upon the birth or adoption of a child or a serious illness or injury to a child requiring hospitalization or consistent medical care. It would also provide partial wage replacement to workers who must take time to care for a seriously ill or injured spouse or parent.
In April, Rep. Gordon joined with Attorney General Maura Healey, Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), Representative John Scibak (D-South Hadley), and leading researchers to meet with Secretary Perez at Tamr Inc in Cambridge for a roundtable on paid family leave and how state governments can advance this policy issue.
Over the course of his fight for paid family and medical leave, Rep. Gordon has come to realize the importance of such a program not only for workers, but also for small businesses. The lack of any state wide program leaves small business owners on their own in the event an employee takes a leave for a birth or serious illness. This program can provide small businesses with a savings opportunity.
The United States is one of a few developed nations that does not offer a paid family and medical leave program. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides job protected leave for employees who have worked for a year for companies with more than 50 employees. FMLA, however, does not cover all workers and does not provide wage replacement.
California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and now New York have filled in this gap with state wide programs. Rep. Gordon hopes to add Massachusetts to that list as soon as possible.
“If Massachusetts implements a paid family and medical leave program, working parents will no longer have to choose between spending time together upon the joy of a new baby, or the stress of an ill or injured child,” said Rep. Gordon. “If they are met with the heartbreaking news that a husband or wife is facing critical care, they can sit by their loved one’s side, and not kiss they goodbye as they head off to a job they need.”
Rep. Gordon will be attending the symposium alongside Rep. Scibak, the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.