Local business owners comment on FMLA bill

(ABC 6 News) – Many business owners are split on this issue. Those for the bill are excited that they will be more completive in the job market and those that are against this bill say it’s going to do the opposite of what it’s intended.

Michelle Priggen with Cardinal of Minnesota says that even though they provide short-term and longer leave programs this is still a need in the workforce.

“But I do think that this is a gap in our system to our workforce. I think it’s a great opportunity for Minnesota to be a front-runner. In paying individuals in our community, our workforce our labor force the time off that they deserve,” said Priggen.

The bill would provide an employee with 12 weeks of partial wage replacement for medical leave and another 12 weeks of partial wage replacement to care for a family member. To pay for it, the employer and employee would contribute point 35 percent of every 100 dollars earned by the employee. And depending on how much an employee makes they will earn 55-90 percent of their wages while also keeping their job and their benefits when they are on leave. Right now, under current FMLA laws, only 24 percent of people have access to the benefits. Under the new bill, it would be mandatory.

“Paid family and medical leave are to separate sort of piles of protections for workers,” Rep. Andy Smith.

Businesses can opt out of the mandate but would have to pay a fee and prove they provide a complimentary plan. Opponents of this bill like Custom Alarm CEO Melissa Brinkman say that this one size fits will not work for small businesses.

“And I don’t think the necessarily the answer they have put together is the best solution. I think there’s a compromise or that you don’t have to pay a fee to prove that your plan is as good as theirs,” said Brinkman.

The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce has also come out against this bill. Chamber President Ryan Parsons says the argument that this will make small businesses more competitive isn’t necessarily true.

“We all know it’s a competitive job market. It’s not going away, and it’s been that way for a long time, so people are already competing for workers. So that need to develop a retention plan and benefits that will draw in talent. That’s already there, that demand is there,” said Parsons.

The bill has made it through nine committees in the house and seven committees in the Senate.