Proposal Would Provide Paid Family Medical Leave

Apr 10, 2019

State Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange, Caswell) introducing his North Carolina Families First Act.
Credit Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

A Democratic lawmaker in the state legislature wants to see North Carolina become one of the few states where employees get paid family medical leave.

The legislation filed by Representative Graig Meyer (D-Orange, Caswell) would require employers statewide to provide between 12 and 26 weeks paid family medical leave, allowing employees to care for newborns or sick relatives.

At a news conference Wednesday, Meyer said he has been trying to sell the idea to major employer representatives at the legislature.

"It will reduce turnover from people who end up going out on leave anyhow, reduce their costs for rehiring and retraining new workers," Meyer said.

The program would be funded by a $2 payroll deduction, which would also cut costs for employers, according to Meyer.

"Because it's an insurance pool and they get to use their existing workers' wages to replace that person with a temporary worker," Meyer said, "it's actually much more affordable for them than what they might choose as a paid family leave program that they would run themselves."

Seven states – California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, and Washington – and the District of Columbia currently require paid family medical leave. Under federal law, employees can get unpaid medical leave. Some large employers in the state already provide paid leave as company policy.

Meyer said none of the Republican lawmakers he approached wanted to co-sponsor his bill.