Paid Family Leave Insurance Act clears committee Skip to content

Paid Family Leave Insurance Act clears committee

Kentucky employers may soon have a new way to offer employees paid family leave.

“Capitol Update” is a non-partisan publication of the Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky employers may soon have a new way to offer employees paid family leave.

House Bill 179 would give private and public employers the option to allow employees to purchase paid family leave insurance.

Rep. Samara Heavrin (R-Leitchfield) is the primary sponsor of HB 179. She presented the legislation to the House Banking and Insurance Committee alongside other stakeholders on Wednesday. She said the legislation would not be a mandate, and paid family leave insurance would be considered a type of health insurance.

“This is a market-driven policy proposal that includes no mandates on employers, workers or families,” Heavrin said.

Under HB 179, paid family leave insurance would allow for temporary wage replacement for workers who take leave to care for a sick family member or bond with a child after a birth, adoption or foster care placement. It could also be used when caring for a family member who is a first responder or member of the military and who was injured in the line of duty, she added.

Charles Aull, executive director for the Kentucky Chamber Center for Policy and Research, said the legislation would benefit Kentucky employers as well as employees.

“This is something that can be helpful for attracting and retaining talent for employers that are already offering some form of paid family leave insurance primarily through a self-insurance model,” Aull said. “This could be an opportunity for them to potentially reduce their total cost. It could also allow them to expand benefits… This is, of course, something that’s also really good though for children and families.”

Rep. Shawn McPherson (R-Scottsville) asked if HB 179 creates a waiting period for how long a person must be employed before receiving benefits. Aull said the legislation makes that the employer’s choice.

Rep. Rachel Roarx (D-Louisville) said HB 179 is a “great first-step.”

“I would just say that family planning is increasingly important for folks and particularly retaining our women in the workforce,” she said. “So, I think that this is great in providing that opportunity to make us more competitive with our surrounding states, and it makes our businesses able to attract more diverse folks.”

Heavrin said Kentucky would join at least six other states in allowing for paid family leave insurance if HB 179 passes.

Rep. Tom Smith (R-Corbin) also spoke in favor of HB 179. He said he appreciates that the legislation is not a mandate and would not place a burden on small employers.

“I support the endeavor, and I think it’s great that we’re doing these things,” Smith said. “But I just like to keep those in mind, the ones who that don’t have the checkbooks that the big corporations have to offer these things all the time, so I appreciate it.”

The House Banking and Insurance Committee unanimously approved HB 179. It now moves to the full House for consideration.

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