Women's Foundation Testimony on Missouri HB1059

Tonight, Kendall Seal, Vice President & General Counsel of the Women's Foundation, testified at the Missouri Capitol in support of House Bill 1059. Here is his testimony:

Good afternoon, Chairman Cornejo and members of the General Law Committee. My name is Kendall Seal, and I am the Vice President & General Counsel of the Women's Foundation. For 25 years, the Foundation has been investing in equity and opportunity for women of all ages in Missouri.

I am here to testify in support of  House Bill 1059, specifically referred to as the “Missouri Earned Family and Medical Leave Act” because the Women’s Foundation believes women’s issues are family issues, and we must not be lulled into the false choice of having to choose between strong families and strong businesses.

In short, we must support businesses by empowering workers with the flexibility to take care of their loved ones without losing their job or going broke. Senate Bill 1059 will accomplish the following:

  • Allows workers to take personal responsibility for major life events such as the birth or adoption of a child, the occurrence of a serious illness such as cancer or a heart attack, or the transition of a parent into a long-term care facility without relying on government assistance.

  • Permits employees to contribute a quarter of one percent of their pay into a fund from which they can draw from for wage replacement up to 67% of their average weekly pay in the event of a major life event.

  • Provides employees up to 8 weeks of paid medical or family leave if they provide proper documentation and notice. Passage of the Missouri Earned Family and Medical Leave Act will make Missouri a beacon for economic development and family centered businesses that embrace best business practices and personal responsibility. At the Foundation, research is a large component of our work. We use data and facts to accurately tell the story. In 2016, we prepared a policy brief on paid family leave, in partnership with the University of Missouri's Truman School of Public Affairs, which is attached to this testimony.

Our analysis revealed that: 

  • Missouri can be a leader in supporting working families by adopting paid family and medical leave policies.

  • The economic impact of paid leave on families includes some income during the employee’s absence for those utilizing paid leave and an increased likelihood that women will still be working 9 to 12 months after the birth of a child.

  • Families need access to paid family and medical leave to care for children and the elderly. Nationwide, the percentage of married-couple families with children under 18, in which both parents work, increased from 58 percent in 2010 -to 60 percent in 2014. More than 16 percent of the U.S. population are eldercare providers.

  • Research shows that paid family and medical leave policies does not harm productivity, profitability, turnover, and employee morale. Also, long-term productivity can increase due to improved recruitment, retention, and employee motivation.

By partnering with the Women’s Foundation and supporting policy efforts to provide paid family and medical leave in Missouri, families are strengthened, workers are more productive, and our workforce becomes more effective. Do not take my word for it.

In July 2016, a public policy poll showed a strong majority Missourians support paid family and medical leave. When asked if they support or oppose allowing employees paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child, nearly two-thirds (65%) of Missourians supported this policy solution.

Now it is up to you to give voice to those Missouri values. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today.