HB 628: Paid family and medical leave

For the Monitor
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Creating a family and medical leave insurance system would ensure workers the benefits they need and help businesses of all sizes be more competitive.

More than 100 New Hampshire businesses, including Concord Hospital, have signed a letter asking our lawmakers to pass HB 628.These employers understand the challenges facing an employee with a dying parent, a critically ill child, a family member ravaged by substance abuse or parents welcoming a new baby into their family.

The local businesses that gathered for a panel discussion of HB 628 at Grappone Toyota in Bow last week joined with the 82 percent of Granite Staters who would like to see the creation of “paid family leave.” Benefits would be available for up to 12 weeks per year and cover 60 percent of an individual’s weekly wage. An actuarial study conducted for the Department of Employment Security concluded that the benefits and administrative expenses for the program would cost an average of $5/week per employee (0.5% payroll deduction). Employers have the option, but are not required to contribute.

California, New Jersey and Rhode Island presently have similar programs which have been successful. The New Hampshire Medical Society strongly endorses this bill. Our nation is one of only a few developed countries in the world that does not have legislation providing paid family and medical leave. People in those countries with these benefits are healthier and live longer than us. Remarkably, their health care costs are half of what we spend per person in the U.S. To those who feel we can’t afford paid family leave, I would argue that we can’t afford not to provide paid family leave. A healthier future for communities surely rests on this wise investment.

(Dr. Oge Young is past president of the New Hampshire Medical Society.)