As Minnesota lawmakers consider a proposal to provide all employees with paid family leave, workers who already have paid parental-leave benefits are speaking out.
Miguel Lindgren and his wife were both adopted into Minnesota families, and have decided to grow their family through adoption as well. He said paid parental leave, negotiated for all state employees through his union, allowed his family to avoid going into debt, and to seamlessly return to work.
"Whether that child was born to them biologically, or they adopt a child, employers need to recognize that that's such a big change in the family and they need some time to adjust to that new normal,” Lindgren said.
House File 5 is set to be heard today in the House Government Operations Committee. The measure would pool funds from employers across the state to create a paid-leave insurance policy that would cover a portion of wages while workers care for sick family members or new additions to the family.
Critics claim the move would hurt small businesses, and that consumers could end up footing the bill through higher prices.
Ellen Bravo, executive director with the national group Family Values at Work, said she disagrees. She said a majority of small businesses support paid family medical leave. She said they want employees to be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones, but they can't do it on their own.
"And this fund is what helps them do it,” Bravo said. “So they love it, they think it helps them compete with large corporations, it makes them able to attract and retain talent."
Lindgren, who testified before lawmakers in support of H.F. 5, said most people understand the need for bonding between parents and a newborn. But he said it's just as important for families created through adoption.
"Having paid parental-leave benefits allowed us to have some time and some space to bond with our child,” Lindgren said. “In our case, we adopted a 7-year-old girl. She was about to start school. We really needed to be full-time parents for at least a couple of weeks - both of us."
A draft of the bill before the state legislature is available here.