"Main Street Alliance of Vermont strongly supports the creation of a statewide family and medical leave insurance program. Without a statewide insurance pool, most of Vermont’s small businesses will remain unable to provide paid family or medical leave to their employees. Similarly, few working Vermonters can afford to take sufficient unpaid leave to welcome a new child, care for a loved one, or respond to their own health emergencies without severe financial consequences.
"As originally proposed by H.196, Main Street Alliance of Vermont supports 12 weeks of 100 percent wage replacement up to a cap of $1,040 per week, financed through a .93 percent payroll deduction shared between the employer and the employee. The House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs amended the financing mechanism before moving the bill so that the full deduction would come from the employee by default, with an option for the employer to cover all or part of the deduction.
"This year, the House Appropriations Committee was tasked with closing a $72 million budget gap, without the ability to raise revenue. As a result, many programs that serve the most vulnerable Vermonters are exposed to cuts and underfunding. Because Vermont State Employees do not currently have access to paid family and medical leave, the original shared financing proposal would have cost the state approximately $2.7 million annually. While Main Street Alliance of Vermont strongly supports a shared financing model, we believe that working families cannot wait for the security and support that a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program will ensure.
"The House Committee on General Housing and Military Affairs’ decision to retain the employer option to pay all or a part of the premium deduction means that:
- unions may bargain for the employer to share or cover the financing;
- thousands of Vermont’s small business owners, who currently cannot afford to offer long-term paid leave to their employees, will be able to contribute a portion or all of the premium; and
- a bill can move forward this year that will provide every working Vermonter with the security of paid family and medical leave to be home with a child, a parent, a loved one, or in a health emergency.
"Main Street Alliance of Vermont strongly supports H.196 and is pleased to see this bill moving forward. Ensuring that all working Vermonters have access to this critical benefit when they need it will promote a healthier economy and brighter future for our state."