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Rhode Island Takes Step Toward Offering Paid Family Leave

By Bryce Covert on June 28, 2013 at 9:30 am

"Rhode Island Takes Step Toward Offering Paid Family Leave"

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On Thursday, the Rhode Island State Senate passed a bill that would allow workers to take paid time off for a new child or to care for a sick or injured family member. The bill now moves to the House, where it must be considered before it adjourns in the next few days.

The program would build off of the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), which has been in place since the 1940s. The Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) program would extend TDI by allowing workers to pay in through a payroll deduction and then take up to eight weeks of paid leave a year. It would cost someone making $43,000 a year 83 cents a week. The programs would therefore not be funded by businesses or the state government.

TCI would cover nearly 80 percent of the state’s workforce. Small business owners in Rhode Island have joined the coalition pushing for the passage of the bill.

Connecticut also took a step closer toward paid family leave recently by setting up a task force that will study the feasibility of implementing such a program.

California and New Jersey are the only two states that already have programs similar to the one being considered in Rhode Island, which allow employees to pay into paid leave insurance. Studies of California’s law predicted that businesses could save $89 million thanks to better employee retention and the state could save $25 million a year thanks to less spending on public assistance programs. After its implementation, the vast majority of employers reported either a neutral or positive impact on profitability, productivity, turnover, and employee morale. A study of New Jersey’s program similarly found business savings.

Only 11 percent of the country’s private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers have access to paid maternity leave through their employers. The U.S. is one of just three countries around the world that doesn’t guarantee that all workers have access to paid maternity leave.

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