Local parents react to potential paid family leave for Louisiana

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - A hot button topic right now in the Louisiana legislature is a push for paid family and medical leave.

Here's a breakdown of what the Louisiana Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, looks like now, and what it could look like in the future:

Private sector employees who meet certain requirements can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for reasons such as becoming parents, including fathers, caring for newborns, serious health conditions or for family members caring for other family members with serious health conditions, among others.

However, employers must continue to provide their employees access to health insurance and give them the ability to use any accrued paid time off toward their leave.

Slightly different rules may apply to employees paid by the state, such as teachers.

But now, according to The Advocate, Democratic Rep. J.P. Morrell is spearheading Senate Bill 186, which would essentially provide partial paychecks to those meeting the requirements for family and medical leave.

So far, it's a bill that's getting partisan support, mostly from Democrats.

But what do parents think?

"For people who do not have the opportunity to be paid while they're home with their children after they have them...to be paid by their employer... I think that that does a disservice to their family,” said Lizzie Felter, an Alexandria teacher and mother.

"If there was a need to increase the tax, it probably would be worth considering since this would be, I think, something that you would get the benefit out of,” expressed Pineville mother Jennifer Byrd. “I think it would translate into maybe less time taken off of work later."

"I would have liked to have been home more,” said Alexandria teacher Wesley Barbaree. “I did feel guilty about leaving school, for sure. I would have felt less guilty if I knew that there was a law that went along with it. But at the same time, I know how unintended consequences work and…I would like to read and research more about other places that have done it, that have implemented it."

SB 186 is now pending in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. We will update you on this bill as the session continues.

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