RICHMOND, Va. — Legislation to expand access to Paid Family and Medical Leave passed the Virginia Senate today on a 21 to 19 vote. Senate Bill 373, carried by Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax), would create a Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) insurance 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 – without sacrificing economic security.
“I have been proud to lead this fight in the General Assembly since 2019. Today, my colleagues in the Senate took action to support hardworking families, particularly women, by voting to create a 12-week paid family and medical leave insurance program,” said Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax). “It’s far past time to give parents and caregivers the tools they need to care for their families emotionally, physically and financially, and this landmark legislation is a huge step in the right direction.”
SB 373 would ensure Virginians have affordable paid leave, a critical need for the 78% of Virginia workers – roughly 3.4 million – without access to this tool.The bill would create an insurance program and fund to ensure a covered employee is paid during their leave. For an employee earning $50,000 per year, the employer and employee would each pay an estimated $4.57 per week into the fund. 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.
“The current patchwork of federal, state and employer-based leave policies are not working for anyone, especially not domestic workers,” said Yanet Limon-Amado, Virginia State Director Care in Action. “We are glad to see the Senate of Virginia taking action to ensure all workers have access to adequate paid leave.”
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.
“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. We are very close to enacting paid family and medical leave in Virginia, which would be a major step forward for the small business community and a boon for a state’s 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.
“I am glad to see Senators stepping up to create a Paid Family and Medical Leave program in Virginia,” said Chrischa Ives, a Virginian impacted by the lack of Paid Family and Medical Leave. “I should never have had to choose between taking care of my daughter and keeping my paycheck, and too many families across the Commonwealth have experienced similar struggles. Hopefully families in the future won’t have to make the same choices.”
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.
“We support this legislation because we believe in a fair and affordable economy where you have the opportunity to thrive,” said Rhena Hicks, Executive Director of Freedom Virgina. “We need to pass this legislation through the House of Delegates to ensure that those who take time off to welcome a new child, care for a loved one, or heal themselves do not have to sacrifice a paycheck and their economic security.”