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The Push for Paid Family Leave in Virginia is Drawing Flak From Small Businesses

Democrats are pressing for paid family medical leave legislation. But, business groups are pushing back.

The stories of people forced to work through difficult situations are harrowing: the woman who couldn’t take time off to undergo cancer treatment, the woman who worked through a high-risk pregnancy and lost her baby.

Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy says she had to go back to work shortly after delivering her twins while campaigning for office.

“So right after giving birth, I had to be hauled back in work when my children were in the NICU for four months leaving them when they needed me the most because we don’t have paid family medical leave here in Virginia,” she says.

That’s why Democrats are pressing for paid family medical leave, a proposal Nicole Riley at the National Federation of Independent Businesses says would be a disaster for small business in Virginia. 

“While many small businesses very much want to support their employees when there’s a family emergency, they need flexibility," Riley explains. "NFIB small business members tell us that a cookie-cutter government-imposed mandate to paid leave would be unworkable.”

The legislation sets the weekly benefit at 80% of the individual's average weekly wages for a maximum of 12 weeks, a mandate business groups say they can’t afford.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.