While living in Canada, William and Nicole Green gave birth to their first daughter in 2012, and being a Canadian citizen, Nicole was able to take a year off from work with pay.
Two years later, they were living in Wisconsin when their second daughter was born. Only 12 weeks of vacation were available and unpaid.
Ten years later, the Greens are still thinking about that contrast and giving it a twist. They are business owners themselves and run Fox City Flix. Fox City Flix is a fledgling entertainment company that rents video projection equipment and sound systems for events in people’s homes and businesses.
We are both working full-time in different jobs while growing our business, now in our fourth year. Green said they plan to add some more employees this year. But I also wonder what happens when employees need to take time off to recover from illness, care for a new baby, or support an elderly relative.
Having experienced first-hand what is possible elsewhere, Green said, “How can we provide the same level of resources for our employees in the future?”
The Greens endorse one of the provisions of the 2023-25 Budget introduced by Governor Tony Evers in February. It’s his 12-week paid leave program for workers in Wisconsin, funded by payroll deductions that are charged equally to employees and employers.
The governor’s proposal would also expand the reach of the state’s current family and medical leave laws. Current law only guarantees unpaid leave and applies only to personal illness, maternity, adoption or care of sick relatives.
in the United States, 11 states According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the District of Columbia has enacted some form of paid leave legislation, including personal sick leave and family leave. Another he said three states have introduced voluntary social insurance programs for paid family leave.
Democrats, workers’ advocates, and some small business groups had hoped for a national paid vacation provision in the 2021 bill President Joe Biden introduced, but that’s the final version of the bill, inflation. It was one of many items excluded from the reduction law. Biden signed into law in August 2022 after passing Congress with only Democratic votes.
At a Republican press conference on the night of Evers’ February budget speech, Senate Majority Leader Devin Lemahue (R-Austberg) said the possibility of including a proposal for Evers’ paid leave after the budget passed Congress. said low.
Nonetheless, paid leave advocates say there are potential opportunities.
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nation’s abortion rights in June 2022, some Republicans and anti-abortion advocates began to voice: Paid vacation supportIn a debate ahead of August’s GOP gubernatorial primary, both Tim Michels and Rebecca Kleefisch spoke favorably about requiring employers to provide workers with paid family leave.
And a Marquette Law School poll released a week before the November election found that a majority of Democrats and Republicans polled said they would support a state law requiring paid leave for mothers and fathers of newborn babies. I’m here.
“It has broad support among small business owners, large business owners, and those who are ideologically opposed across the political spectrum,” said Rep. Francesca Hong (D-Madison). says. “So I think there is a good chance that the current Congress will at least discuss this issue.”
“I believe it will [an issue] We will have strong bipartisan support, not just at the legislative grassroots level, but across different sectors of our economy,” adds Hong.
Evers’ proposal calls for a program that provides up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Leave will be paid for through a new trust fund built by employers and employees equally contributing their salaries. The governor’s plan calls for his $243 million start-up contribution by the state to seed funding in his first year.
The proposal is paid vacation bill The Democratic Party was introduced late in Congress in the last two years, funded solely by employee donations.
Hong, a restaurateur and member of the Wisconsin Legislature, said her longstanding concerns about how small businesses can be encouraged to support their employees were highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. says.
“There have been people leaving the industry,” she says, prompting discussions among restaurant owners about how to make the jobs they offer “more careers.” “Having the option to provide employees with paid time off not only allows us to diversify our workforce, but also allows us, as a small business, to actually make the necessary investment in our employees and save on turnover costs. Victory.”
Irene Strobin, a small business consultant in Menasha, recalled the contrast she saw when her first child was born more than 30 years ago. At the time, she was working for a large multinational company.
“We were all able to take unpaid leave,” says Strobeen. Meanwhile, at her London office at the company, a colleague was taking longer paid leave than required by law.
“I increased my savings and stayed home as much as I could,” she says. “But it doesn’t compare to the way our European peers are taking parental leave.”
Advocates of paid leave see it as a benefit that, if enacted here, could draw more people into the workforce and attract more potential workers to Wisconsin.
“The lack of investment in the care economy has left employers unable to stay competitive, retain and invest in their employees,” said Hong. “We are the only developed country that does not have a national policy on this.”
Paid time off provision is one of the priorities that the Main Street Alliance, a small business owner advocacy group, has been pushing ahead of Congress’ budget debates.
Green says he has discussed the issue with lawmakers and their staff, including an all-day visit to the Capitol hosted by the Main Street Alliance in February. “These people have been very open to hearing from us as voters,” he says. “I hope these conversations continue.”
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