Ohio lawmakers propose paid family leave

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Legislation is in the works that could provide paid leave to working families in Ohio.

Lawmakers plan on introducing a bill that would help families take care of newborns, sick family members and themselves.

Jennifer Herold is a working mom, but she knows taking care of her three young kids could be a full-time job in itself. She understands firsthand all the tasks parents take on.

"I'm a creator of play sets. I'm the cleaner of the house. But also, for me, I'm an occupational therapist and that's important to me," Herold said.

After having her youngest child, Herold barely took two months off work.

"It puts a strain on the family and it's a tough decision going back to work," she said.

State Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) wants to help eliminate the strain many workers face. She teamed up with other Ohio lawmakers, including State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland), to create legislation that would provide paid family leave.

"Quite frankly, we don't believe people should have to choose between keeping their job and going forward in their career and taking care of their family," Boggs said.

The Ohio Medical Leave Insurance Program would provide 12 weeks of paid leave to full and part-time workers who work 680 hours per year or more. It would cover families taking care of newborns, sick loved ones or themselves.

Boggs said the main concerns come from big businesses that would foot the bill.

"This push back we've heard about, this fear of it being unaffordable, of it being catastrophic to the business community, quite frankly, hasn't played out in any state or country that's passed similar legislation," said Boggs.

As a working mom, Herold said she's in full support of the legislation.

"I'm excited. I think this is a step in the right direction, no matter if you're democrat or republican. I really hope you could get behind legislation because it really helps," she said.

Boggs said California and New Jersey have similar programs. In those states, the program costs businesses roughly $1 or less per week per employee, or about $50 per year.

Lawmakers will formally introduce this bill March 5.

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