Similar to California’s Family Leave Insurance, Rhode Island legislators are paving the way for some short term disability insurance for workers in that state. Dubbed the Temporary Caregiver Insurance Bill, Rhode Island workers are a governor’s signature away from improved job protections during periods of short term disability.
The bill allows for partial wage replacement for those who participate when experiencing a qualifying event, such as adopting or having a child or caring for a sick family member. Together with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which provides job-protected leave, workers would be able to take time off work without completely losing their income if the bill passes.
These types of short term disability insurance or wage replacement programs benefit both employees and their employers. By providing some wage replacement and job security, employees are more productive, according to studies of the California program and a complementary program in New Jersey.
In turn, employers save a substantial amount of money from the state-run disability programs. In California alone, employers’ savings are estimated at just under $90 million a year.
With only two, and possibly three with the addition of Rhode Island, providing a state insurance fund for employees, it’s too early to say that the much-needed programs are gathering steam across the country. However, proponents of the Rhode Island bill note that progress can be made when hardworking families stand up and assert their needs for a work environment that allows them to put and keep their families first.
Source: Huffington Post, “Rhode Island Becomes Third State With Paid Family Leave,” July 4, 2013