80% of Georgia voters support a paid leave insurance plan. This bill would make it possible

Many working Georgians don’t get a single paid sick day from their employers, but that could change if House Bill 1517 happens

Democratic lawmakers introduced the bill on March 3, 2022, hoping to create the Georgia Family Insurance Law.

If passed, the law would create a family and medical leave insurance fund into which both employees and employers contribute jointly, rather than putting the burden on employers alone.

People can tap into this fund when they need time to care for a new child or in the event of a family or medical emergency.

Women make up 48% of the state’s workforce and are nearly 12 times more likely than men to leave their jobs to care for children. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed more people into caregiving roles that prevent them from earning an income.

The Georgia chapter of 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, is an organization that advocates for issues of economic justice.

Director Mica Whitfield said the state needs policy solutions that strengthen the workforce because many women face difficult choices between caring and returning to work.

HB 1517 is not only good for business, but also good for public health in general, he said.

“Georgia does not currently have a law that provides all workers with paid leave to care for a new child, a critically ill family member, or for their own critical illness,” he said, noting that 80% of Georgia voters support a insurance plan to provide paid leave. .

PLUS: Georgia has 7 caregivers for every 100,000 people. That is the lowest ratio in the nation.

Nearly three in 10 workers in the South don’t have a single paid sick day, Whitfield said.

Only about 43% of African-American workers and 25% of Latino workers have access to paid parental leave, and many people of color cannot afford to take advantage of the federal Unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, even when they are eligible, Ife Finch Floyd said. , senior policy analyst for economic justice at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

“The FMLA only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees, so some small businesses are not required to offer unpaid leave,” Floyd said. “There is also a 1,250-hour-a-year requirement that an employee must work to qualify for FMLA leave, so some low-wage workers may not meet the hour requirement.”

Floyd said another piece of proposed legislation, house bill 510which is sponsored by five Republicans and one Democrat, would create a state earned income tax credit that would also support economic justice for women and families in the low-income demographic.

“We see this as a way to help families raise their wages,” Floyd said. “It would reduce their tax liability and ultimately ensure that they can put those wages toward the essentials they need for their family.”

Transition Day, March 15, 2022, is the day any bill before the Legislature must be approved by the House or Senate to have a chance of passing this session.

This article appears on Now Habersham in association with GPB News

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