Floren: Balancing Fairness and Affordability

Opinion submitted by State Rep. Livvy Floren, 149th District – Greenwich & Stamford

 As the mother of four children and the grandmother of nine, I know what it takes to rear kids, and I clearly remember the time and energy they require. I’ve also cared for aging loved ones, and have experienced the emotional and physical toll it takes. For those working a fulltime job while trying to balance the responsibilities of parenthood, taking care of an ailing family member, or both, the stress can be overwhelming. I know many can relate, and I’m sure everyone has asked themselves: How can I cope?

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) is a viable solution. Under a Republican proposal introduced just last week, employers would have the option to purchase private sector insurance plans to be made available to their employees, should they choose to enroll.

PFML has several benefits. For starters, managers can use this tool to grow their businesses. As the unemployment rate declines along with the increasing demand for skilled labor, job creators will be forced to compete with other firms to attract talented people. Offering a quality PFML option to job candidates is an effective way to accomplish this. The Republican proposal would also open the doors to out-of-state plans that may be more affordable or offer better coverage. Lastly, companies will have control over cost-sharing based on their financial situation rather than being forced to absorb the entire cost.

A private-sector solution would allow employees to choose a plan with the appropriate coverage, price and duration they need. Coverage would also expand to grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and spousal-type relationships (cohabitation).

The entire state benefits because as opposed to the costly state-run program proposed by the Democratic majority, this approach would not involve a 0.5% payroll tax on Connecticut’s workforce. The result is a system that is much more efficient, sustainable and equitable.

Most of us have taken time from work for personal reasons, and as long as we have people who depend on us, that will never change. What we can change is how we help each other find balance. It is possible to fulfill our duties at work and at home, but we must approach this in a manner that is fair to our entrepreneurs and small business owners because they have families who rely on them as well.

I hope my colleagues across the aisle will join us as we help our constituents find a balance.