Paid leave would cost $1B, employer group says

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BOSTON — The paid family and medical leave program called for in an advancing 2018 ballot question will cost workers and employers $1 billion, with the state on the hook for $55 million for its workforce and another $70 million to cover the bureaucracy that will be needed to run the program, according to an employer group.

According to Associated Industries of Massachusetts, employers under the proposed program would pay into a new trust fund 0.63 percent of each employee's annual wages, with employees seeing a new payroll deduction on their paychecks.

While AIM views the measure as "disruptive, expensive and unnecessary," its supporters have gathered thousands of voter signatures to advance a measure that they say will enable more workers to take their own medical leave or care for ill family members without suffering economic hardship associated with going unpaid for weeks at a time.

Megan Costello, executive director of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's Department of of Women's Advancement, testified that a paid leave policy would help business owners with employee retention, slowing turnover and reducing training costs.

"Paid family medical leave is good for individuals, it's good for working families and it's good for businesses' bottom lines," Costello told the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.

Beth Monaghan, the CEO of the public relations firm InkHouse and vice chair of the Alliance for Business Leadership, said her company's policy to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave is expensive, but has also engendered loyalty among employees who she continues to rely on to run parts of her firm.

"We know it's unequivocally good for parents, but it's also good for business," Monaghan said.


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