Our representatives in Helena have a chance to make a real difference in the lives of Montanans. House Bill 228, the Montana Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMLI) would pool small contributions from employees and employers to fund paid time off for workers who need to take care of themselves or a loved one.
I know firsthand the difference paid leave makes. My first child was born while we were living in Czechia, which — like most countries other than the United States — guarantees paid leave for new mothers. I had time to recover physically and mentally and bond with my baby, all while knowing we could pay our rent and put food on the table.
When I had my second child five years later, we had returned to the U.S. Like many Montanans, I was working more than one job — none of which offered paid time off of any kind, much less parental leave. I worked feverishly on extra projects so I could take a little time off after the birth. One employer graciously let me bring my new baby to work — a luxury that not many have. Even so, I keenly felt the difference of having to juggle my baby and work duties. I was more exhausted and got sick more often, and so did my baby.
And it’s not just new parents. Most Montanans have no guaranteed paid leave to care for an aging parent, to help a family member after surgery, or to recover from their own illness or injury.
No one should have to make the agonizing choice between taking care of their loved one and staying afloat financially.
If you agree, please contact your representative and the House Business and Labor Committee to voice your support for the Montana FAMLI Act today.
Nicole Rosenleaf Ritter
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Letter to the Editor 2/20/21