COLORADO- A bill introduced by Colorado state lawmakers at the end of last week is creating some concern among local business owners.
It would create a paid family and medical leave program for all employees in the state, of 12 weeks.
Employers and employees would both contribute.
It’s a piece of legislation that’s come up before, but with full Democratic majority it could have a better chance of making it to Governor Jared Polis’ desk this year.
‘Right now in Colorado, one out of four moms is going back to work two weeks after giving birth,’ said Senator Faith Winter (D- Westminster).
The United States is the only Economic Co-operation and Development county that doesn’t offer this benefit to employees.
‘It’s a big program, and really ultimately what would make the most since is to have it federally funded, but with a lack of federal action it’s up to state’s take over,’ said Winter.
Winter sponsored similar legislation last year as a state representative, she adds it’s not just moms that can use the program.
‘We have cancer patients that are skipping their second round of chemotherapy because they can’t afford to lose their paycheck,’ said Winter.
The way the bill is currently written would make it so employers and employees would contribute %.32 percent of one percent of the employees salary.
The percentage rate would change after about the first year of the program, when the Director would select the rate.
While it comes out of paychecks, it is considered an ‘enterprise’, which won’t need voter approval.
It also means all money collected from the fee can only go to the program and not into the state’s general budget.
Business owners in Colorado Springs have concerns.
‘That’s going to effect things, it’s going effect the benefits that we offer, the wages that we offer and it’s going to effect business,’ said David Jeffrey, CEO and Owner of JPM Prototype and Manufacturing in Colorado Springs.
Jeffrey’s business has about 30 employees, and he worries about the impact this could have for his workers.
‘to try to mandate something like that is going to effect employees and their wages, it simply is and it’s going to effect how we do business in Colorado,’ said Jeffrey.
A big concern for Jeffrey, is the impact on wages for workers, with both he and his employees contributing.
‘I understand the premise behind it, and I certainly understand taking care of our employees,’ said Jeffrey.
Economic experts say there are some benefits to the bill, in addition to concerns smaller businesses face.
‘If we have even a small percentage of people who stay in the labor force because we now have paid family and medical leave, then we’re really increasing our tax base,’ said Tatiana Bailey, with the UCCS Economic Forum.
Bailey says by allowing workers to take time off and return to the work force, it can have a positive impact for the economy.
‘70% of Colorado house holds have two working parents, so we’re talking about a lot of individuals,’ said Bailey.
Additionally, Bailey adds that Colorado has a higher percentage of women in the work force than other states.
‘We want that to continue and maybe even to grow,’ said Bailey.
The bill will be heard in a committee on Wednesday.