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Business & Economy

Paid Family Leave Bill Held for Further Study

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Andrea Smardon
/
KUER

A bill that would provide paid parental leave to state employees may not make it to a vote this legislative session.

House Bill 188, sponsored by Democratic Representative Angela Romero, would provide six weeks of paid leave to state employees after the birth or adoption of a child.

According to the fiscal note on the bill, it could cost state agencies up to $9,000 dollars per employee in lost productivity. However, the bill would require zero ongoing funding from the state. Several committee members were confused by this, including Republican Representative Dixon Pitcher.

“The replacement for these people that has to be paid for somewhere, it has to be paid for in some manner, I was trying to understand why that wasn’t reflective on the fiscal note,” Pitcher said.

Stephanie Pitcher - no relation to the representative – was there to help present the bill on behalf of the Utah Women’s Coalition. She explained to the committee that the Family Medical Leave Act already requires employers to grant leave after the birth of a child.

“Under FMLA, people already take 12 weeks of unpaid leave, so this bill wouldn’t create a new need or a new cost because that cost already exists under FMLA when people take their unpaid leave,” she said.

The committee ultimately decided there was too much confusion about the fiscal impact of the bill, and deferred a vote on the measure. Representative Romero says she’ll work to get her colleagues all the information they need.

“I thought I explained it, but I think there are some more conversations I need to have with some of my colleagues, so it might come back to committee,” Romero says,  

It’s estimated the measure would affect more than 1000 state and higher education employees in a year.

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