Ohio House Dems offer paid medical-leave legislation
By Marc Kovac
Ohio workers would receive paid time off to deal with their own medical issues, care for family members or spend time with their newborn children under legislation being offered by Democratic state lawmakers.
Reps. Christie Kuhns, D-Cincinnati, and Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights, have proposed a 12-week paid medical and family leave program, administered by the state and covered by funds withheld from employee paychecks.
“Working families in Ohio shouldn’t have to choose between earning a paycheck and protecting their families,” Kuhns said in a released statement. “The birth of a child or a loved one falling ill should not throw the entire family into hardship if a parent needs to take time off of work to be a caretaker.”
Federal law already requires companies to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to workers dealing with family or medical issues.
Democrats’ legislative proposal would allow 12 weeks of paid leave, with payments up to $1,000 per week. The program would be headed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and run similarly to insurance coverage offered by employers, with premiums paid by employees. Kuhns said workers in other states pay less than $50 annually for coverage.
To be eligible, employees would have to pay into the system for at least a year and have worked at least 680 hours during the coverage period. They also would have to get doctors to sign off on conditions or situations.
The proposed program would take effect in 2020, and state officials would have to conduct an actuarial study by next year. That study would cost about $400,000, Kuhns said.
Sen. Capri Cafaro of Liberty, D-32nd, plans to introduce comparable legislation in the Senate.
“This issue is close to my heart as I helped my family care for my grandfather who struggled with Alzheimer’s [disease] for almost a decade,” she said in a released statement. “I understand firsthand the emotional strain and time needed to care for a loved one. It is my hope that this legislation will allow Ohioans to take the time to care for their loved ones in their time of need without jeopardizing their financial stability.”
No Republican lawmakers have yet signed on as legislation co-sponsors.