New Ohio Bill Would Fund Paid Family Leave

Today, Ohio lawmakers introduced a proposal that would make Ohio just the fourth state to guarantee 12 weeks of paid family leave to workers.

Following a model that has been adopted in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island and was enacted into law this week in New York, the plan creates a statewide insurance pool for workers to take time off with pay to deal with a serious illness, sick family member or to care for a newborn.

Under the plan, introduced by State Representatives Christie Bryant Kuhns and Janine Boyd, workers would pay a small portion of each paycheck into an insurance pool administered by the state. When they have a qualifying event – birth or adoption of a child, or a serious illness of the employee or family member, the employee is reimbursed by the fund for a portion of their weekly paycheck up to $1000.

Top income-earners would receive up to 66 percent of their normal salary, but the program is scaled so that those with the lowest incomes would receive a higher percentage of their normal pay, up to 95 percent (see table 1).

Table 1:

Individual’s Income vs. Average Weekly Wage Benefit (as % of typical paycheck)
20% or less 95%
More than 20% but less than or equal to 30% 90%
More than 30% but less than or equal to 50% 85%
More than 50% 66%

(Average Weekly Wage represents a calculation, performed each year, of the average wages earned by Ohio workers)

The bill expands the universe of workers for whom paid leave is available – currently just 13 percent of U.S. workers – to anyone who works and makes payroll contributions during the year before a qualifying event. Employers forward these paycheck deductions to the state, but are not otherwise be obligated to administer the plan, which instead is handled by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Even independent contractors, who do not work for a single steady employer, would be eligible for paid leave if they opt to pay into the plan.

The legislation brings Ohio workplaces into the twenty-first century, where women and men participate equally in the workforce and traditional family structures are no longer the norm.

Read more from our 2015 report about the benefits of paid parental leave, including better child health, worker retention and productivity and closing the gender pay gap.