TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This bill isn't what it sounds like.
According to the proposed legislation filed this week, Florida employers could soon be legally required to let workers take three months of paid family leave to bond with newborn children, newly-fostered kids or newly-adopted ones.
But the only person paying for this leave is Mom or Dad.
Senator Janet Cruz of Tampa introduced the Senate version of the bill. Cruz suggested a payroll deduction allowing employees to put money aside to pay for their own time off when welcoming a new child.
"This takes some of the pressure off the employer, really, if the employee has contributed to a plan where they can pay their own time off or pay their own way," said Cruz.
In other words, if you want to take more time off with your new baby, save money ahead of time.
When pressed on the potentially misleading wording of the bill, Senator Cruz acknowledged that maybe it should be called "pre-paid parental leave."
So while an employee is responsible for paying for their own parental leave, Cruz insisted her bill – known as the "Florida Family Leave Act" – also ensures job security for up to three months while a parent takes time away from work.
However, federal law already protects a person's job for up to 12 weeks after welcoming a new child.
The Family And Medical Leave Act entitles employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.
"The federal law mandates that but it doesn’t always happen. Often times, mostly with women, there’s a loss of status," said Cruz.
It's not clear how the current bill would make a person feel more confident about taking time away from work any more than the FMLA that passed in 1993 already does.
The bills were filed this week in both the state Senate and House. If passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor, the legislation would take effect on July 1, 2020.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, four states- California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York require paid family leave.
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