Employers could voluntarily purchase family medical leave plans for their workers under legislation proposed at the recent National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) summer meeting.
The bipartisan Paid Family Leave Insurance Model Act is sponsored by Paul Utke, a Republican State Senator from Minnesota, and Deborah Ferguson, DDS, a Democratic State Representative from Arkansas. The policies would pay benefits:
- After the birth of a child or the adoption of a child by an employee;
- When a child is placed with an employee for foster care;
- To help an employee care for a family member who has a serious medical condition; Where
- When a family member of an employee in the military is on active duty or has been called up for active duty.
The proposal is similar to bipartisan legislation signed into law by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin earlier this year.
“The proposal before NCOIL would address a critical challenge facing workers today,” said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the association. “Too many people are faced with an impossible choice between earning a paycheck and taking the time to care for a loved one. Like the landmark law passed in Virginia, NCOIL’s proposal will allow employers to offer paid family leave solutions that protect their workers against economic loss.
Virginia’s HB 1156 and SB 15 established family leave as a class of insurance, with benefits payable in the same situations as in the Utke and Ferguson proposal.
“Until now, no state has allowed companies to offer insurance plans that cover family leave,” Youngkin said during the signing of the bill. “I am proud to say that Virginia is leading the way by being the first state to pass legislation like this. It is important to find solutions that balance the needs of workers with the flexibility needs of companies, their employees and their families.
Related: LGBTQ+ Parents Need Paid Parental Leave Too
Life insurance companies already provide paid sick leave benefits through short-term disability policies to more than 47% of full-time American workers. The proposed legislation would establish new laws in states that allow companies to offer insurance plans that cover family leave.
“We commend Senator Utke and Representative Ferguson for advancing this important proposal,” Neely said. “We look forward to its adoption by NCOIL and working for its enactment in state legislatures across the country.”
The association includes state legislators who develop model insurance laws for consideration by state legislatures.