Family Leave Insurance - : Content

Family Leave Insurance

Maine people work hard to earn a living and to provide for their families. In an economic downturn, meeting these obligations has become increasingly difficult. Bad times are the worst times for anyone to lose a job. Unfortunately, for many, a single illness, disability, or even the happy occasion of the birth of a child into the family can be the difference between economic security and financial devastation. Studies show that the birth of a new child is one of the key triggers for bankruptcy.1


Workers Shouldn't Have To Choose Between their Families and their Job


While the Maine Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides workers with up to ten weeks of leave due to serious illness or the arrival of a new child without risk of job loss, it has serious shortfalls. Most importantly, the leave is unpaid,2 meaning the majority of workers can’t afford to use it. According to a Department of Labor study, 78% of workers who needed to use FMLA couldn’t afford to take it.3

Family Leave Insurance Supports Families and Keeps Workers on the Job


Family medical leave insurance enables workers to continue to provide for their loved ones during these rare events in a career. It is job-protected, paid leave that can be used by an employee if they are welcoming a new child, recovering from personal illness, caring for a family member, or caring for a qualifying wounded service member. Paid family leave has important benefits. It improves the health of infants, as infants have more bonding time with their parents, and mothers are able to breastfeed, reducing obesity and childhood illness.4 Family Leave Insurance would further benefit Maine’s elderly population; when the elderly or chronically ill have caregivers able to look after them, they are able to be independent for longer, recover more quickly, and stay out of nursing homes.5 In additional to clear benefits for working families, FMLI also has significant benefits for employers. Family Medical Leave reduces turnover in workplaces,6 saving businesses money, as replacing a salaried employee costs 150% compensation.


Paid Family and Medical Leave Should be Available to Maine's Working Families

Funded through a broad base of employer and employee contributions, Paid Family Leave Insurance programs are affordable and cost-effective. Paid Family Leave Insurance programs exist in California, New Jersey, and Washington. Now it's time for Maine lawmakers to follow suit and pass paid family leave.

  1. 7 to 10 percent of individuals filing for personal bankruptcy report “birth of a child” as one of the causes for their financial insecurity. Bartick, Melissa and Arnold Reinhold, “The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis," Pediatrics,
  2. Maine Revised Statutes, Title 26 §844  U.S. Department of Labor, Balancing the Needs of Families and Employers: Family and Medical Leave Surveys.
  3. Waldfogel, Jane, “Public Policy and Child Outcomes: New Evidence on Parental Leave & Child Health,” paper presented at the 4th Annual Invitational Journalism-Work/Family Conference, May 2005, hosted by Brandeis University and Boston University.
  4. Van Houtven, Courtney H. & Edward C. Norton, “Informal Care and Health Care Use of Older Adults,” Journal of Health Economics, 2004.
  5. See, for example, Joshua M. Wiener et al., “Why Do They Stay? Job Tenure Among Certified Nursing Assistants in Nursing Homes.”
  6. “Compilation of Turnover Cost Studies: $8.00 per hour employee in the USA,” Sasha Corporation, undated.

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