Proposition 118 would create a statewide paid family and medical leave program for workers who’ve earned at least $2,500. The program would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave in most cases, and 16 weeks in the event of pregnancy or childbirth complications. Payments would come from a state-run insurance fund. In workplaces with 10 people or more, workers and employers would each contribute to the fund — at a rate of 0.9% of an employee’s wages — but employers in workplaces of nine or fewer people would be exempt from having to contribute to the premium. Companies with their own programs that meet criteria could opt out.
The case for: Paid family and medical leave would allow workers to stay at home longer with their newborns, care for loved ones in need, or simply prioritize their own health. Without paid leave, workers are often under pressure to return to work more quickly or not to take time off at all. Research has shown that paid leave programs expand employment opportunities and contribute positively to the state economy.
The case against: Workers would be forced to pay into a program that they may never need. That may be especially problematic in a recession, as many individuals and families are having a harder time covering their expenses. Many businesses are struggling, too, and Proposition 118 would add another cost during an uncertain time. Depending on how much the program generates, premium rates may be raised from 0.9% to 1.2%. And while the ballot measure allows certain businesses to opt out, doing so may be complicated and expensive.
Ballot question: “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the creation of a paid family and medical leave program in Colorado, and, in connection