New mother applauds Paid Family Leave proposal

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A proposal to offer paid family leave to full and part-time workers in Ohio is likely to be filed in just a few weeks. While the idea is written by Democratic state lawmakers, it's something Republican President Donald Trump mentioned in his State of the Union address this week.

For Proctorville family Ricky Carter Jr. and Desiree Provost, it would make all the difference in the world.

Ricky Carter III was born just three days after Christmas.

"I just think about how perfect he is," Provost said.

Carter III is finally home after a few weeks in the NICU because of blood sugar concerns and an infection after the birth.

It's obvious Provost is his proud mother. Still, these last six weeks haven't been easy.

"Living on one paycheck is hard," she said.

Meanwhile, Carter Jr. is one proud papa.

"That's the best thing that's ever happened to me in my whole life," he said.

But less than 32 hours after his son was born, he went back to work in the Meat Department of the Food Fair in Proctorville.

"Two days off is all I could afford," he said.

Provost also works at the Food Fair, in the Produce Department. She stopped working about a week before delivering Carter III. Ever since, they've been living on one paycheck not two.

"It's been hard, hard to watch watch I spend every dime on, just barely getting by," Carter Jr. said.

Democratic state leaders are introducing a bill next month which would offer up to 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave in situations like after the birth of a child or to take care of a close relative, similar to the federal FMLA requirements.

State Rep. Kristin Boggs (D) is one of the co-authors for the bills. She said it would be available to both full and part-time workers who have worked at least 680 hours, equivalent to 17 weeks of work at 40 hours a week.

Requirements would mirror FMLA in terms of caring for a close family member, like child, a spouse, a parent or in-law. She said states like California and New Jersey already have similar programs.

She said employees would bear the cost of the program and any individual could choose to opt out.

While a similar Ohio bill died two years, she hopes political winds have shifted, demonstrated by President Trump's statement during the State of the Union on Tuesday night when he said, "Let's support working families by supporting paid family leave."

Bill Dingus, the executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation doesn't like the idea. Even with employees bearing the burden of cost, he believes it will be a challenge to small businesses. He hopes lawmakers help families in other ways.

"When you open the door, there's a thousand other things," he said.

Boggs estimates the cost to employees will be about $50 a year, or $1 to $2 a week.

"That's nothing," Provost said.

"I'd definitely pay it, it'd be worth it," Carter Jr. added.

It would be worth it so they both could spend time with Ricky the Third. Because while he's stress-free, his parents are not.

"I definitely feel the pressure to go back," Provost said. "As much as I want to stay home with him and get that bonding time with him, you have to go back. You have no choice."

She hopes to go back to work in another week or two.

Meanwhile, the 25-year anniversary of the signing of FMLA is on Monday. Boggs hopes to use the anniversary and the momentum to get more co-sponsors, including Republicans.

For employers, she also touts the social and economic benefits which will come from happier workers who are more committed because of the environment they work in.

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