Governor Gretchen Whitmer is prioritizing paid family and medical leave for Michigan residents, drawing inspiration from other states like Minnesota.
Why it matters: As one of the few nations without a universal paid leave policy, the U.S. has states wrestling with how to implement this essential support.
- Roughly 80% of Michigan workers don’t have access to paid family and medical leave.
- In 2020, Whitmer initiated 12 weeks of paid parental leave for state workers, benefiting over 3,500 state employees.
- Federal policies already demand larger employers to offer 12 weeks of paid leave.
Looking for Blueprints:
- Senator Erika Geiss and Representative Helena Scott have introduced Senate Bill 332, proposing up to 15 weeks of paid leave.
- Minnesota serves as a case study. Governor Tim Walz recently approved a policy granting nearly all workers paid family and medical leave.
- Minnesota’s policy uses a 0.7% payroll tax on employers and provides anti-retaliation safeguards for workers utilizing the leave.
Impact on Small Businesses:
- Brian Calley, ex-Lt. Governor, now CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan, warns against “one-size-fits-all” policies. He suggests such mandates could push the economy away from small, locally-owned businesses to major corporations, despite Federal policies demanding larger employers offer 12 weeks of paid leave.
- Minnesota implemented a similar policy, making small businesses more competitive with bigger businesses for employees, not less.
- The conundrum: protecting employee benefits and educating small business owners without giving bad faith actors openings.
Between the Lines:
- Adopting comprehensive paid leave policies could stimulate the population and reduce or even reverse the birth rate decline in Michigan.
What’s Next: As Michigan’s legislature dives into the specifics, they will closely watch states like Minnesota to inform their decisions. The outcome could set a (hopefully positive) precedent for others in the U.S.