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State legislature introduces Maui County Council’s proposal for paid family leave : Maui Now

Gabe Johnson

Maui County Councilmember Gabe Johnson announced the introduction of state legislation seeking to mandate access to paid family leave for state and county employees.

Johnson introduced Resolutions 23-173 and 23-176, both adopted unanimously Sept. 1, to propose the legislation for inclusion in the 2024 legislative packages for the Maui County Council and Hawaiʻi State Association of Counties.

At the request of the council and HSAC, Speaker of the House Scott Saiki introduced House Bills 1855 and 1876 and Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi introduced Senate Bills 2207 and 2225 after the legislative session’s opening day last week.

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“The United States is the only modernized country that does not offer paid maternity, parental-care or home-care leave,” said Johnson, who holds the council seat for the Lāna‘i. “While 13 states have passed paid family and medical leave laws, our workers, families and communities in Hawai‘i suffer when they don’t have the benefits that allow them to take care of newborns, aging parents or ailing loved ones.”

The legislation seeks to offer the same benefits to state and county employees that since 2020 have been offered to over two million federal workers—including 20,000 Hawaiʻi residents—through the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act. Johnson noted state and county agencies throughout Hawaiʻi are facing labor shortages, and paid family leave could be helpful in retention and recruitment of qualified public employees, leading to more efficient service.

“A healthy workforce is invaluable,” Johnson said. “Now more than ever, as we face the immediate and long-term challenges in recovering from the Maui wildfires, we need to protect the public servants we are relying on.”

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If passed, the legislation would provide qualified state and county employees full wages for 12 weeks of family leave per year following certain events, including:

  • the birth of the employee’s child,
  • the placement of an adoptive or foster child with the employee and
  • when the employee’s spouse, reciprocal beneficiary, child, grandchild, parent or sibling needs care for a serious illness.

“Paid family leave has proven benefits, including decreased infant mortality rates, lessened burdens on senior care homes and care workers and increased health equity across racial and socioeconomic groups,” Johnson said. “Paid family leave is the right thing to do for workers and their families, and the entire community profits when we center the well-being of keiki, kūpuna and caregivers.”

“I hope that the government can be a role model for Hawaiʻi Paid Family Leave and that the private sector will follow,” Johnson said.

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The bills presented in the 2024 Maui County Council Legislative Package and Hawai‘i State Association of Counties Legislative Package can be followed at https://www.mauicounty.us/2024-legislative-session/.

Source: Maui News

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