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An outline of state of Colorado with the words Paid Family and Medical Leave Program

FAMLI Premium Payments Begin; It’s a Good Thing!

// January 17, 2023

Employers and Employees Will Contribute to the State’s Family and Medical Leave Program

In anticipation of the program and in alignment with our values, WFCO provided paid leave for two staff members in 2022

You may have noticed your first paycheck of 2023 looks a bit different. As of January 2023, Colorado employers and employees are making contributions to the state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. FAMLI premium payments will build a fund to provide Coloradans with wage replacement benefits during life circumstances that pull them away from their jobs.

FAMLI will start providing benefits to employees beginning January 1, 2024. Most eligible employees will receive up to 12 weeks of leave. Those who experience pregnancy or childbirth complications may receive an additional four weeks.

“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” – Rosalynn Carter

Voters passed FAMLI premium payments in 2020

Colorado voters approved Proposition 118 in November 2020 to ensure all Colorado workers have access to paid leave if they grow their families or need to care for loved ones. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado supported the measure.

One of the many things the pandemic shined a spotlight on is the importance of paid family and medical leave. Nationally, more than 800,000 women dropped out of the workforce between August and September 2020 because they had to make an impossible choice: caring for a loved one or supporting them. FAMLI makes it so that women can do both.

Our staff members’ stories of paid family and medical leave

In anticipation of the bill and in alignment with our goal of gender, racial, and economic equity, WFCO provided two staff members with 12 weeks of fully paid leave in 2022. They have graciously shared their stories about what the benefit meant to them and their families.

Alison Friedman Phillips, director of programs

When I was thinking about bringing a baby into this world a million things crossed my mind – finances, parenting approach, lifestyle shifts, the future of our planet, and of course – what will it be like immediately after the baby is born? What will it be like to recover from child birth? Will we able to figure out feeding? How will we sleep (if ever!)?

At WFCO we have the privilege of taking 12 weeks parental leave fully paid. This is a luxury that most Coloradans, especially many of our neighbors of color who earn low incomes, do not have access to this year but will beginning in 2024. While we thank the voters who approved a statewide paid family leave program for Coloradans, other states such as California and almost every other industrialized country in the world provide a much longer length of leave for new parents.

For me being able to step away from my role at WFCO, even for those crucial first months, was vitally important at a time of my life that I will never forget (asides from lack of sleep!). I recognize that as a white, cisgender women who was born into privilege, I am much more likely to not only have access to paid leave but also to have health insurance through my employer and be able to afford child care (a whole other blog post). While my little family is grateful for paid leave and our other privileges, I know we must not only continue to fight for leave for all Coloradans but also ensure that we are changing our systems to allow for access to better jobs, high-quality health care, and affordable child care. WFCO has shown me through its benefits that these things should be a right, not just a privilege.

Camisha Lashbrook, donor relations manager

In January of 2022, my husband and I welcomed our son into the world. The first few hours of labor – in the early morning 10 days before my due date – were scary but exciting. We couldn’t wait to meet him. But as the hours passed by with little progress, I watched my nurse’s face fall and the excitement turned to worry for my baby and myself. My birth story ended with a healthy, beautiful baby boy and an excruciating emergency c-section.

Nothing could have prepared me for the recovery. Twelve weeks of paid maternity leave from The Women’s Foundation gave me and our family not only time to bond and get into a new routine, but also for me to heal from major surgery and address several medical issues that our newborn faced in his first few months of life. All without a cloud of financial worry that hangs over so many women and families in Colorado who do not have access to paid leave to care for themselves and their family members.

Whether they’re a new mom like me, someone caring for an aging relative, or a person experiencing medical hardship, everyone will need leave at some point in their lives and every Coloradan deserves the safety and dignity of paid family and medical leave.

What’s next?

In 2023, WFCO will continue to advocate for fair implementation of the bill across the state. We will also continue to highlight the needs of Colorado’s care workers and our child care workforce – those who are helping to take care of our loved ones.

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