Rhode Island Senator Gayle Goldin and Representative Shelby Maldonado are introducing legislation that would expand paid family leave through a program called Temporary Caregiver Insurance. The bill would allow more kinds of caregivers to take time off work to care for family members, and boost the wages they receive while away.
Right now Rhode Island employees can take up to four weeks off to care for a new child or a sick family member. While they’re out, they receive 60 percent of their regular wages. This bill would increase the kinds of family members who can take time off and boost the wage replacement to 100 percent.
University of Rhode Island researcher Helen Mederer says the evidence from a study she a colleague did on the impact of TCI supports making these changes.
“Siblings are interesting because they are our longest enduring relationship throughout our life, and because family has changed so much over time and we are experiencing so much family diversity, expanding to siblings we think makes a great deal of sense,” said Mederer.
Mederer and colleague Barbara Silver say more people might take advantage of TCI if they knew about the program, or if they knew the law included job protection.
Silver says the bill could remove barriers for people who want to take leave. The first is basic awareness of the program.
“The people who did know about it, the primary reason by far and away was the inability to afford the loss in income,” said Silver. “So the wage replacement was simply unlivable for many people.”
Silver studied the roll out and impact of the program. In 2016, around 5,800 workers used TCI to spend time with a new child or care for a sick family member.