North Carolina’s Family First Act would provide paid family medical leave insurance

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- New mothers and people with elderly parents are just some of the people who could benefit from a bill proposed in the North Carolina General Assembly.

North Carolina’s Family First Act would provide paid family medical leave insurance through a plan provided by the state.

Employees would get income-based paid leave up to 90 percent of their weekly income.

It would cover up to 12 weeks for parents to care for newborns and newly adopted children, 18 weeks if you or a family member in your care has a serious illness and 26 weeks to care for an injured service member.

“It takes a lot of time it takes a lot of patience,” Alexis Levette said.

She was unemployed six years ago when she had her son, but even if she had a job she believes missing time with him wasn’t an option.

'I would've taken a lot of unpaid time to spend time with my child. That's my baby, that's my only one," she said.

Even some who feel the bill wouldn't affect them say it's a step forward for North Carolina.

“It can't always be about me it's about us a whole,” Elon Law student Edmond Haney said. "And I think giving those people the opportunity to take advantage of those benefits will do all of us better.”

If the bill becomes law, it would cost workers around $2 per paycheck, but half would be paid by employers. Some think that's money well spent.

“There's a return on that investment by what you gain when you give that time to an employee in terms of heir productivity when they return in terms of their productivity in the workforce,” said Michelle Kennedy, who is the executive director of the homeless day center in Greensboro.

Kennedy would know. She provides extensive paid-leave plans with her employees. Also, her partner is due in August. Kennedy says it would be tough to afford taking unpaid leave to stay with the baby. It’s one of the many problems North Carolina’s Family First Act could ease.

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