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There are two, emerging ideas on how to add paid family leave in Virginia

Lawmakers will be back in Richmond next month considering several different ways for workers to have paid family leave.

Advocates for paid family leave say now is the time for action as employers realize the need more tools to recruit and retain workers in a tight labor market.

Senator Jennifer Boysko is a Democrat from Herndon who has a bill that would set up a new paid family and medical leave program administered by the Employment Commission. She says the goal is to get some kind of paid family and medical leave however the program is structured.

"There are many ways to do this," Boysko explains. "We can do it with a private provider. We can do it with a public provider. We can do a hybrid. And so if we can get any sort of progress with this I will consider it a victory."

Senator Barbara Favola is a Democrat from Arlington who’s taking a different approach. Her bill would establish paid family leave as a class of insurance. She says this approach opens up a market that employers have been asking for.

"This would be a tool in the toolbox," Favola says. "Insurance companies could offer the plan and employers could negotiate a plan based on their best assessment of what their employees might need or benefit from."

Some advocates say they'd love to see the General Assembly take action on paid family leave, although they’re focused for now on paid sick days — an issue that has not received much traction, even when Democrats were in control of the House and the Senate.

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.