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Paid Family & Medical Leave Benefits Women & Families

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s annual policy agenda supports the care, safety, economic security, and leadership of women, girls, and gender-expansive people. The opportunity to care for our families and ourselves without risking the economic stability of our families should be available to all Minnesotans. As part of our policy agenda for economic justice, we support the creation of a statewide paid family and medical leave program for all workers in Minnesota. 

When we listen to workers around our state, they share that paid family and medical leave is key to the long-term success of all people and should not be afforded only to a few. To achieve economic security and a fair economic playing field, we must value the work and the roles that women provide by advocating to compensate – at minimum – her right to take a leave.  

As the legislature considers Paid Family and Medical Leave, we are testifying and have joined the Minnesotans for Paid Family & Medical Leave coalition to ensure that legislators understand how important this benefit is to Minnesota’s future. 

Paid family and medical leave for all Minnesotans builds economic justice for Minnesotans because it supports and values the health and well-being of Minnesotans who provide essential caregiving to their families and communities. Last week, Chanida Phaengdara Potter, vice president of strategic communications and narrative change, testified: “If we truly value the women and caregivers who make this state thrive, I ask this committee to move quickly to pass SF2, so that hardworking Minnesotans can focus on caring for their loved ones and themselves—which leads to a better and more caring Minnesota.” 

What the Data Show 

It is estimated that only 24% of Minnesotans have access to paid family leave. While some larger companies do offer paid family or medical leave benefits, often only higher-income, salaried or full-time employees are eligible. 

This disproportionately leaves out rural workers, workers with disabilities, workers from Black, Indigenous or other communities of color, and part-time workers, along with those working for small businesses. Research in our Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota shows that women are concentrated in low-wage occupations like service industries where benefits are scarce and pay is low, and women of color dominate these fields. While one in five of Minnesota’s white women work in service jobs, more than one in three Latina, African American, and Native American women work in service fields where benefits are scarce. In contrast, 12% of men work in these occupations. These workers must make heartbreaking and health-risking choices to care for themselves or loved ones or lose a paycheck or, worse, their jobs.  

Paid family and medical leave means workers do not have to choose between caregiving and working. Numerous testifiers including doctors, nurses, educators, and small business owners have shared personal stories that illustrate the benefits of a statewide program, including up to 12 weeks of partial wage replacement during leave for pregnancy and medical leave as well as up to 12 weeks for family leave for bonding with a new child or care of a seriously ill family member. In addition, the bill establishes vital support for survivors of violence and abuse with the employment security and financial protection they need to address the health and safety of themselves and their children. 

In a tight job market, paid leave is also good for employers and the economy. Women with access to paid leave are significantly more likely to return to their previous jobs and build more experience in their jobs. For employers, this means retaining valued workers while women benefit from increased earnings and make headway on closing the pay gap.  

Join WFM in Advocacy

Contact your legislators to share your support for paid family and medical leave.  Tell them now is the time to value!

We believe that our state’s future prosperity is interwoven, and Minnesota will benefit when women, girls, gender-expansive people, and all people pushed to the margins get exactly what they need to thrive.  

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