Video from the event can be viewed HERE.
Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax); Delegate Briana Sewell (D-Prince William); Rhena Hicks, Freedom Virginia; Jewel Gatling, Care in Action; Shirley Mae Modlin, business owner and member of Small Business Majority’s Virginia Small Business Council; and Chrischa Ives, a Virginia Beach resident, stand together following the press conference.
RICHMOND, Va. — In anticipation of a key vote in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee this afternoon, lawmakers and impacted Virginians this morning called for the passage of legislation to establish a Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program in Virginia. This critical policy would ensure covered employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid time away from work to care for themselves or a family member.
Senate Bill 373 is carried by Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) and House Bill 737 is carried by Delegate Briana Sewell (D-Prince William). HB 737 passed the House Labor & Commerce Subcommittee #2 last Thursday by a vote of 5-3, SB 373 will be heard for the first time in the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee later today.
“Hardworking Virginians – especially women – are often forced to take time off from work or even leave the labor force in order to care for our families or welcome a new baby. Governor Youngkin spoke at his budget speech last month about the need to help Virginia’s women return to the workforce,” said Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax). “Today, my colleagues have the opportunity to take the first step to do right by women and working families by setting up a 12-week paid family and medical leave program.”
Paid Family and Medical Leave gives families paid time off to care for a new child, themselves, or a family member when they are facing a serious health condition – without sacrificing economic security. SB 373 and HB 737 would ensure Virginians have affordable paid leave financed by small contributions from employers and employees – less than half of one percent each to fund the program. For an employee earning $50,000 per year, the employer and employee would each pay an estimated $4.57 per week. The amount paid to workers while they are away will vary depending on income, but will typically be 80 percent of the worker’s regular pay.
“Paid family and medical leave means that people can finally take time to recover when they are seriously ill without also jeopardizing their economic security,” said Delegate Briana Sewell (D-Prince William). “We should not be forcing employees to work while they’re in chemo or with a two-week-old baby because they can’t afford to miss a paycheck. The legislation has advanced in the House and I am hoping to see it advance in the Senate today so we can take a first step toward the reality of Paid Family and Medical Leave for all Virginians.”
In a survey of employers in a state that recently adopted Paid Family and Medical Leave, nearly 93 percent of respondents found that implementing the program had either positive or neutral effects on their businesses. Small businesses reported benefitting more than big businesses.
“No worker should be dependent on the goodwill of employers to voluntarily offer paid family and medical leave,” said Jewel Gatling, Virginia Organizing Director with Care in Action. “This is the same privileged system that benefits and values people in certain professional occupations over other workers who are the backbone of our economy.”
Across the country, momentum has been growing for providing necessary economic support for hardworking people. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia guarantee access to Paid Family and Medical Leave, including Minnesota and Maine, which passed legislation in 2023. Virginia has the opportunity to continue the momentum with this landmark pro-business, pro-working people legislation.
“A state-run paid family and medical leave program gives small businesses like mine a better opportunity at retaining, recruiting employees and competing with larger companies for quality talent,” said Shirley Mae Modlin, owner of 3D Design and Manufacturing, LLC and member of Small Business Majority’s Virginia Small Business Council. “Implementing paid family and medical leave is a commonsense policy that the Commonwealth should get behind. I hope policymakers will do right for our state’s small business community and pass SB 373 and HB 737.”
If women in Virginia participated in the labor force at the same rate as women in countries with paid leave, there would be an estimated 73,000 additional workers in the state and $2.7 billion more wages earned statewide.
“My story of juggling finding work while caring for my sick daughter is unfortunately not unique. Too many families across the country and the Commonwealth have experienced similar struggles,” said Chrischa Ives, a Virginian impacted by the lack of Paid Family and Medical Leave. “The current system is pushing caregivers, particularly women, out of the workforce. Paid leave for all means care for all.”
Video from the event can be viewed HERE.