Chamber Members Provide Feedback on Potential Family Leave Legislation

famli discussion

Speakers Debra Brown of Good Business Colorado (left) and Laura Giocomo Rizzo (right) from the Denver Metro Chamber discussed the issues associated with family and medical leave at a recent Northwest Chamber Alliance discussion.

Most people know a family that has been impacted by health issues. Whether it’s the joy of welcoming a newborn, or the challenge of navigating a parent’s terminal illness, often accompanying these important life milestones are the complex logistical challenges of holding a job throughout the process.

Some organizations provide robust leave benefits, with many weeks of leave for new parents or those facing the heartbreak of serious disease. Other organizations provide more limited options for their employees. Cost and business disruption are the most frequent reasons for more limited offerings. Colorado is navigating what makes sense for providing our residents with a statewide leave option, and the Boulder Chamber and our members are helping inform this conversation.

The Boulder Chamber recently partnered with our regional coalition, the Northwest Chamber Alliance, in a forum regarding Family and Medical Leave legislation that will be the subject of discussion during the next state of Colorado legislative session. The Northwest Chamber Alliance is comprised of the Chambers in Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont, Broomfield, Superior, Louisville and the Latino Chamber of Boulder County, so the audience included perspectives from throughout the north metro region, representing 3,600 businesses and 137,000 employees.

The engaging dialogue between the assembled business leaders and policy experts, representing both legislation advocates and concerned policy leaders, covered a gamut of issues. Advocates for increased family leave cite the challenge long-term illness and new children places on employees. Some in the audience worried, though, about alignment with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal labor law requiring covered employers to provide employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. There was also a call for more market-based solutions and attention to the impact on small business that aren’t well-equipped to keep employee positions open for extended periods.

The Boulder Chamber plans to have an active voice in the family leave policy discussions throughout the 2020 legislative session. As we formulate our position, we want your feedback. Please contact Senior Director of Policy Programs Lori Call at 303.938.2084 or lori.call@boulderchamber.com with your perspective on this issue.

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