The paid leave program in Colorado has recently been initiated

Today marks the 31st anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a significant federal law that grants eligible workers unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. This legislation has had a profound impact on the lives of millions of workers, including Kris Garcia from Denver, who shared her experience: “When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I was able to use intermittent FMLA leave to take her to appointments and care for her during her treatment. Later, I used FMLA leave to be with her during her final days. This time together meant everything to both of us.”

However, while the FMLA has been a crucial support for many families, it is not enough. The lack of a paid leave standard means that many workers cannot afford to take time off from work, even when they need it. That is why we are celebrating the recent implementation of Colorado’s new paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI), which began accepting applications on January 1st.

FAMLI allows Coloradans to access paid time off from work for a variety of reasons, including recovering from a serious health condition, caring for a family member, bonding with a new child, taking safe leave, or taking leave related to a family member’s military deployment. This program was passed by Colorado voters through a ballot measure in 2020. Even before this, the city of Denver had been exploring the possibility of implementing paid family and medical leave, with support from the Women’s Bureau through their Paid Leave Analysis Grants in 2014-2016. To learn more about the impact of these grants, click here for an interactive map.

Paid leave not only benefits workers and their families, but it also has positive effects on businesses. Evidence from successful programs in other states has shown that FAMLI could have a positive impact on Colorado employers. Studies have found that paid leave is linked to lower turnover costs for businesses, as well as higher productivity and morale. To see if your state has paid leave laws, check out this interactive map.

Moreover, state paid leave programs can help small businesses compete with larger employers by providing similar benefits. Tracy duCharme, a small business owner in Colorado Springs, recognizes the value of FAMLI for her business. She shared, “As a small business owner, I often struggle to compete with larger organizations for top talent because I cannot offer benefits like paid leave. I am eagerly awaiting the launch of the paid family and medical leave insurance program so I can finally provide my employees with this critical benefit in a sustainable and predictable way.”

It is clear that paid leave is not only beneficial for workers and their families, but also for businesses. As we celebrate the 31st anniversary of the FMLA and the implementation of FAMLI in Colorado, let us continue to advocate for paid leave policies that support both workers and businesses. 

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