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Whitmer plans for paid family and medical leave in 'What’s Next' address

September 20, 2023
Photo by Abbey Ross | The State News

During her “What’s Next” address on Aug. 30, 2023, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer explained that a majority of Michiganders support paid family and medical leave so workers can spend time with their newborns, care for a sick parent or recover after a severe medical procedure. 

Whitmer laid out top legislative priorities for the fall and the future, hoping to have paid family and medical leave to ensure workers can be there for their families or recover after a procedure.

Whitmer plans to enact paid leave in a way that would ensurepeople have breathing room” between the time of their leave and resuming work.

State Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) said she supports Whitmer’s work, and will operate with her in the future because of their shared passion for helping residents.

“Paid family leave is a necessity that will ensure Michiganders can be with their family at a time of need and guarantee their spot at work will be there when they go back,” Geiss said. “Every Michigander should have access to paid family leave, plain and simple. It’s time to get to work and catch up with the rest of the world."

Urban regional planning associate professor Zeenat Kotval-K has been a resident of Michigan since 2005. Kotval-K said Whitmer “does very good work for almost all of our policies.”

She said she believes that enacting this plan for medical and family leave would be beneficial for workers in Michigan who need that space and time to better themselves and, potentially, their families.

“I’m all for it," Kotval-K said. "I don’t really know who would [be opposed] but it just shows [Whitmer’s] commitment to the residents and the workers of the state. I think this would cover the most urgent needs.”

When comparing Kotval-K to other residents of Michigan and the United States, she is in the majority of those who support medical and family leave. A Pew Research survey from May 2023 found that 99% of Americans said spending time with family is one of the most important things. Within that statistic, 86% of 18 to 29-year olds, 91% of 30 to 49-year olds, 91% of 50 to 64-year olds and 93% of those 65 years or older agree that family is important.

Within Michigan itself, residents have actually been in support of paid leave for many years now.

In 2015, a poll from Denno Research found that 86% of Michiganders support paid sick leave. With that, 83% of those respondents stated they would be supportive of state legislature passing a bill allowing workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

As Whitmer continues to push this plan, Michigan residents gear up for possible paid medical and family leave


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