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Bill Would Require Businesses To Offer Paid Medical Leave

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DENVER (CBS4) – A new bill is aimed to try to help Coloradans who might not get paid leave to take care of a sick loved one or themselves.

The bill is different from the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The federal law only applies to larger employers and is unpaid leave while the state Legislation would require all businesses regardless of size to offer paid leave.

The pay would come from a state insurance fund. Employees would contribute about $3 a week to the fund and be eligible for 12 weeks of leave.

“It’s time we put family values into the workplace,” said Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster.

Supporters of the bill brought signs and stories to state Capitol on Monday where the bill went before a Senate committee.

Shelby Ramirez took time off to care for her daughter and ailing father, and while she kept her job, she says she nearly lost her home.

“So I had to decide, ‘Was I going to pay my rent? Was I going to pay my utility bill,’ ” said Ramirez.

Ulibarri says like unemployment insurance under his bill, employees would have money deducted from their paychecks, and if they needed sick time they would receive a percentage of their pay up to 12 weeks a year.

The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, representing 35 Chambers of Commerce, opposes the bill.

“If you have a small employer who needs to bring somebody on for that amount of time, you might not be able to guarantee that position,” said Loren Furman from the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry.

However, the bigger obstacle to passage may be the cost to the state.

“We’re in the last week and half of session. Finding $16 million is going to be a challenge, but I‘m going to be fighting tooth and nail to protect working families in the state of Colorado,” said Ulibarri.

State fiscal analysts say it would cost $16 million to set up the state insurance fund. That’s about twice the money the general fund allocates to the Department of Military Affairs and Department of Personnel all of next year.

A Senate committee postponed the vote on Monday.

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