ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Democratic lawmakers are proposing a far-reaching family and medical leave policy for all Minnesota workers. They will introduce a bill this week to grant up to 12 weeks a year of paid leave to workers who have babies or need to care for a family member.

The announcement comes one day before the session begins. About 135,000 Minnesota workers a year could get paid family leave if this bill passes, and it could have a dramatic impact on a family trying to care for loved ones.

The bill establishes a family leave fund regulated by the state that’s paid into by the worker and the employer. Workers could take paid time off up to 3 months for family events such as birth, adoption, or caring for a family member who is seriously ill, including parents or grandparents.

“Everyone gets sick. Everyone has to take care of a grandparent or a parent. Lots of people have children, or adopt,” Minnesotans for Paid Family Leave representative Doran Schwantz said. “This is something that cuts across geography, and race, and class. All kinds of workers need access to paid family leave.”

Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing six weeks of paid family and medical leave for 35,000 state workers. This bill goes far beyond that, affecting all workers in the state. Three states already have similar programs.

The provisions would be paid for by workers and employers. Supporters estimate the average worker would pay into the fund about $89 a year, or about $1.70 a week, which is matched by the employer.

Pat Kessler

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