Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition Denounces Anti-Family Members of House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee for Defeating Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill

Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition Denounces Anti-Family Members of House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee for Defeating Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill

Richmond, Virginia—This week marks the 25th Anniversary of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but on Tuesday afternoon, the House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee #2 defeated a bill that would have given the law an important update for Virginians. Delegate Levine’s HB40 would have required employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid family and medical leave to employees.

Delegate Habeeb, the chairman of the subcommittee, refused to allow comments from the public on the bill despite the fact that there were at least a dozen people who had waited hours to voice their support of the bill. The bill was defeated despite the fact that the Republican Speaker of the House, Delegate Cox, has vocally supported expanding paid family and medical leave this year. The Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition is outraged that this bill failed to pass without public comment. When major life events happens, families shouldn’t also have to worry about how they are going to pay their bills.

“Families in our communities work hard and deserve to have financial security and independence. But that’s impossible when conservatives in Richmond won’t pass common sense bills like paid family and medical leave,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia said. “No one should have to worry about paying rent or getting fired if they have to take time off work to care for a sick loved one. They have enough to worry about.”

“Whether it’s the birth or adoption of a child or the serious illness of a family member, any of us can find ourselves needing time off work. No one should have to choose between keeping their job or providing care for family members,” Julie Emery, Executive Director of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, said.  “Unfortunately, hardworking Virginians saw the General Assembly defeat a bill today that would have helped when faced with these hard choices.”

“Virginia’s women should not have to make an often untenable choice between caring for a sick family member or taking a day to recover from an illness and continuing to receive a paycheck. In the vast majority of Virginia’s two parent households, both parents work, leaving no one to take care of a sick child if neither parent has a job that allows for paid family leave,” Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said. “Women are often the primary caretaker for their children, they are often the primary caretakers for aging parents. Yet many face the untenable reality that they cannot both work and take care of emergency family situations. Virginians deserve better, Virginia’s women deserve better, which is why it is so disappointing that this important bill failed to make it out of committee.”

2,112,767 Virginia women are in the labor force, making up 48% of the workforce. Only 44.7% of Virginians are eligible and able to take unpaid leave in Virginia, but more than one million Virginians serve as family caregivers, which is equal to 15.8% of the adult population in Virginia. The Women’s Equality Coalition, a statewide coalition made up of 14 member organizations dedicated to ensuring that all Virginia women are able to fully participate in social, economic, and political life.