Published on April 13, 2008
Media Coverage: Media Coverage Family Medical Leave Act California Paid Family Leave Family Medical Leave Act : Family Medical Leave Act A 1993 federal law requiring that employers with 50 or more employees (and public companies of any size) must allow employees to take unpaid leave to care for ill family members and to return to the same position or to a substantially similar position following the leave. Paid Family Leave in California: Paid Family Leave in California California’s State Disability Insurance program and allows employees to collect up to 55 percent of their salary, up to a maximum of $840 per week, while caring for their loved ones. Paid Family Leave in California: Paid Family Leave in California In early 2002, California State Senator Sheila Kuehl introduced Senate Bill(SB) 1661. Family Temporary Disability Insurance to provide “wage replacement benefits to workers who take time off work to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parents, domestic partner or to bond with a new child” Governor Gray Davis signed SB 1661 on September 24th, 2002 making California the first state in the nation to offer paid family leave. Framing: Framing What it is and why it’s important Source: Berkeley Media Studies Group Slide7: The process of organizing information and making meaning is called framing. In the news coverage, the frame is the way an issue is DEFINED, PACKAGED, and PRESENTED. Journalists select certain arguments, examples, images, messages, and sources to create a picture of the issue. This selection - or omission - of arguments and voices not only indicates to readers what is important about an issue, but also what is not. In so doing, reporters indicate what or who is credible, which positions and arguments are valid, and which aspects of an issue need not even be considered. Slide8: Frames are powerful because they foster certain interpretations and hinder others Frames: Draws attention to a specific picture & separates told from untold pieces of the story Frames are Central arguments/perspectives Create tracks for a train of thought Provide cues that activate a scenario in the minds of some readers Six Frames that support paid family leave: Six Frames that support paid family leave Caring family, bonding moms 69% Balancing work family 41% Business wins too 27% Make family leave real 17% Corporate family values 9% Competitive advantage 6% Slide10: The percentages for the following frames are based on how many separate print pieces contained at least one mention of the frame. There were 278 print pieces from California and national news sources. This frame appeared in 192 different articles, therefore 192/278* 100 = 69% Like a frame around a painting, the news frame draws attention to a specific picture… Caring family, bonding moms 69%: Caring family, bonding moms 69% Proving the opportunity to care for loved ones could almost be included in every story, since nearly every story or opinion piece incorporated the fact that the bill would allow employees to take time off for this purpose. Balancing work family 41%: Balancing work family 41% The emphasis was that currently employees are being forced to choose between their family and their job. Two versions of conflict appeared in coverage, each focusing on care of family on two ends of the aging spectrum. Business wins too 27%: Business wins too 27% Speaks to the responsibilities of businesses to be “good corporate citizens” in communities where they operate - this frame says that paid family leave will help businesses profit too. Make family leave real 17%: Make family leave real 17% The 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act helped some, many could not afford to take time off without some compensation. This frame brings reality into the picture and makes clear that the law is successful when workers can afford to forgo their income. Corporate family values 9%: Corporate family values 9% Corporations have duties to families and communities beyond their primary goal to make a profit. Businesses are a part of the surrounding community, business and citizen has to do their part for the success and well-being of the community as a whole. Competitive advantage 6%: Competitive advantage 6% Business wins too - one step further Paid Family Leave benefits the state as a whole making California a more attractive place for skilled workers. Pro-Worker, Pro-Employer and Pro-Family. Davis to Sign Bill Allowing Paid Family Leave; Benefits: Measure grants most workers time off to care for a new child or sick family members. Supporters see it as a model for the nation.; [HOME EDITION] GREGG JONES. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sep 23, 2002. pg. A.1 : Davis to Sign Bill Allowing Paid Family Leave; Benefits: Measure grants most workers time off to care for a new child or sick family members. Supporters see it as a model for the nation.; [HOME EDITION] GREGG JONES. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sep 23, 2002. pg. A.1 Under the measure, which was written by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D- Santa Monica), most workers will be paid about 55% of their salary for six weeks of leave for a new child or sick relative. The program will expand the state fund providing insurance for disabled workers but will be funded entirely by employee payroll deductions, averaging about $26 a year. About 13 million of California's 16 million workers would be eligible. During the final legislative wrangling over SB 1661 in August, Kuehl said, she agreed to the governor's suggestions to scale back the bill's impact on businesses. She shortened the leaves to six weeks from 12 and shifted the expense entirely to workers rather than have employers and employees split the costs. Under the Kuehl bill, only workers who pay into the state disability insurance system would be eligible for the paid family leaves. State government employees are exempted from that system because California covers them under a self-insured program. Payroll deductions for eligible workers--ranging up to $70 a year for people earning more than $72,000 a year--would begin in January 2004. Workers would be allowed to start taking paid leaves as of July 1, 2004. The maximum payment will be $728 a week, and the payments will not be taxed. Neutral frame California, here it comes: bellweather state breaks new ground with family-leave law - Editorial : California, here it comes: bellweather state breaks new ground with family-leave law - Editorial In contrast to the California law, the current federal Family and Medical Leave Act permits employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. The federal act applies only to companies with 50 or more employees. The California Chamber of Commerce charged that the measure "will cause California to lose some of its competitive edge as many businesses will look to other states when relocating or starting up to avoid these types of mandates." Gov. Davis has referred to the bill as "historic" and "groundbreaking" legislation that could result in "reduced employee turnover" and "increased employee morale." "This bill will help millions of California workers meet their responsibilities to both their families and their employers," Davis said in a statement upon signing the bill into law. "It sends a message around the world that California is pro-worker, pro-employer and pro-family." Of course, many employers believe that Davis, who is up for re-election this year, is anything but pro-business. Some, however, would say he is pro-people, and that may not be such a bad thing. In fact, the governor, with the signing of the leave legislation, may end up instilling more motivation and willingness to work in the hearts and minds of many of his state's workers. Americans always have looked to Californians -- of whom there are now about 34 million -- as models of how to live and enjoy life. Some even say the state is a bellwether for the rest of the country, a place where lifestyles and attitudes are introduced first. And the family-leave act is no exception to that rule. NRN'S EDITORIAL BOARD Editorial Page Editor: Robin Lee Allen Alan Gould, Ellen Koteff, Richard Martin, Elissa Elan, Alan Liddle, Richard L. Papiernik, Paul Frankin and Ron Ruggless First family: California has made paid family leave law. Will the rest of the nation follow?: First family: California has made paid family leave law. Will the rest of the nation follow? Where California goes, so goes the nation eventually. This time, we may be heading toward paid family leave. In September, Governor Gray Davis signed legislation making California the first state to require paid leave for employees who want to take care of an ill relative, newborn or newly adopted child. The program-funded by payroll deductions and administered through the state's disability insurance program-allows employees to take up to six weeks at half salary after using two weeks of vacation, and goes into effect January 2004. At least 27 other states-including Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York-are also considering legislation. Proponents point toward cost savings for employers. A report by UC Berkeley economists estimates California employers could save $89 million a year in turnover costs, and the average cost per employee will be $2.10 per month. Paid family leave is a win-win for employers and employees, says Netsy Firestein, executive director of the Labor Project for Working Families, a Berkeley organization working to pass family leave legislation. Employees will bear the burden of applying through the state and getting a doctor's certification, and the law doesn't require small employers to keep a job open, meaning employees won't take the leave lightly. Critics fear small employers won't have the flexibility to cover for employees on leave. Plus, it's a regressive tax that will encourage employees to ask for raises so their pay isn't affected, says Scott J. Witlin, a partner at Proskauer Rose in Los Angeles. "Employers will have to make up that cost," he says. If a paid leave law passes in your state, you'll have to keep close track of time accrued and how much has been used. "Tracking can be a nightmare," says Mary Topliff, an employment law attorney in San Francisco. "It'll be interesting to see how this flies." Chris Penttila Contact Sources * The Labor Project for Working Families (510) 643-6814, laborproject.berkeley.edu * Law Offices of Mary L. Topliff (415) 398-9597, www.joblaw.com * Proskauer Rose LLP (212) 969-3000, www.proskauer.com COPYRIGHT 2003 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group Slide20: ..countless working parents, covered by the act or not, can welcome the setting of so valuable a standard for the future.... not all protected will take all their authorized leave... In recognizing the dual responsibilities of so many Americans, Congress - and President Clinton... give wise and sadly overdue attention to the new realities of American life. its effects on business are likely to be quite modest.... 12 weeks without pay is a long time.... Washington Shifts Gears Family Leave Moves Forward The New York Times Feb 3rd 1993 FMLA 1993 Slide21: ..next challenge will be to ensure that its promised benefits translate into real improvement in the quality of life for American families. ..the leave itself is unpaid. The bill is a far cry from the one that was originally conceived… …and is even further from benefits offered in countries such as Japan, Germany and Sweden. Those who oppose (say it) will be too costly for employers..they’ll have to forgo expansion. Nevertheless, the bill’s passage is good news…a triumph for those who pressed for its passage in the face of fierce opposition. 6 Frames opposing Paid Family Leave: 6 Frames opposing Paid Family Leave Unfair Burden 59% Competitive disadvantage 30% Tax on Jobs 29% Nanny state/slippery slope 24% Good idea, but… 13% No safeguards <5% Unfair Burden 59%: Unfair Burden 59% Used consistently by Chamber of Commerce spokesperson - why business, small businesses should not be saddled with a backbreaking expense. “Job Killer” was repeated in quotes from Chamber representatives, headlines, editorials and reporters - indicating that Paid Family Leave is not pro-business. Competitive disadvantage 30%: Competitive disadvantage 30% Broadening the Unfair Burden on single businesses…”would cloud California’s business climate” making the state unable to attract investment and companies willing to do business here. This frame was coupled with the “job killer’ catch phrase promulgated by the Chambers of Commerce invokes an image of California losing jobs, marching out of state… Tax on Jobs 29%: Tax on Jobs 29% Suggesting that Paid Family Leave is a tax by another name - tax is a bad thing. Chamber of Commerce repeated the “tax on Jobs” phrase hoping to link PFL with anti-tax sentiment. First focusing on businesses and as the bill evolved, focus was on the employee tax burden. “It’s a tax on workers coming out of their paychecks so they cannot spend that money for things they choose.” Nanny state/slippery slope 24%: Nanny state/slippery slope 24% The state should not tell workers what to do, if there is a family emergency, employees and employers will work it out. The state is overstepping its bounds with Paid Family Leave - a slippery slope to a welfare state. “The measure mimics the kind of generous welfare-state benefits common in Europe,..But since when should California model its programs on those offered in Europe?” Editorial. “burdening Californians with incremental taxes,” Orange County Register Aug 5, 2002 Good Idea, but .. 13%: Good Idea, but .. 13% This is a “reality” frame for opponents of SB 1661, embrace the idea of Paid Leave but have a host of reasons why it should not be enacted. Main objection is the California economy “bad timing”. “California is not a utopia.” Editorial. “No costly Mandate; Legislature debates paid family leave,” San Diego Union Tribune July 30,2002 A fantasy not grounded in reality, a nice idea, would never be practical or reasonable choice given economic circumstances. No safeguards <5%: No safeguards <5% Frame expresses: Employer certainty that workers will take advantage of the system and abuse Paid Family Leave. For example, lying about a family member being sick. This implies that the bill was poorly written, bureaucracy creates abuses. Is California Climate Getting Too Chilly for Business?; [HOME EDITION] Marla Dickerson. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 9, 2003. pg. C.1 : Is California Climate Getting Too Chilly for Business?; [HOME EDITION] Marla Dickerson. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 9, 2003. pg. C.1 (Copyright (c) 2003 Los Angeles Times) Chuck Buck has used his company's knives to filet salmon, skin deer and dress a pronghorn antelope in the field. But after 58 years in San Diego County, Buck Knives Inc. can no longer cut it in California. High electricity rates, soaring workers' compensation premiums and relentless foreign competition have gutted profits, according to the company's 66-year-old chairman. The state's Democratic- controlled Legislature and massive budget deficit have him worried about tax increases. So he's moving the privately held company to Idaho next year, taking 260 manufacturing jobs with him. "We just came to the point where it seemed riskier to stay in California than to leave," said Buck, the grandson of the founder. California's business climate, always a heated topic in business circles, has tempers boiling once again. Struggling with sluggish sales and wilting profits in a listless economy, companies are taking a hard look at their costs. Many don't like what they see. The state's botched electricity deregulation plan has burdened companies with some of the highest energy rates in the country, while a string of perceived anti-business legislation passed in recent years has made it more costly to employ people. Workers' compensation premiums have skyrocketed, more than doubling for some companies. State minimum wage increases and new overtime rules inflated payroll costs just before the economy tipped into recession. With California's jobless rate hitting a five-year high of 6.6% in December, employers are being socked with higher contributions to prop up the state's unemployment insurance program. And last year, California became the first state to approve comprehensive paid family leave, an employee-funded program that businesses say will cost them a bundle in absenteeism and temporary staffing when it starts next year. "There is a level of anger that I haven't seen since the early 1990s," said John Husing, an Inland Empire economist and small- business consultant. "I think we're going to see more companies leaving." Such dire predictions tend to ebb and flow with the health of the economy. Complaints about California's business climate crested during the recession of the early 1990s and dissipated in the subsequent boom. What's more, whining is a favorite past-time among some company heads no matter how the economy is doing. One Year Later: One Year Later “The Paid Family Leave Law, authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl, is funded entirely by workers through contributions to California’s State Disability Insurance program and allows employees to collect up to 55 percent of their salary, up to a maximum of $840 per week, while caring for their loved ones. According to EDD, close to $300 million in benefits were paid to workers in the program’s first year, which was less than originally projected. “The program has had a critical impact on working families who have eldercare responsibilities—and it represents a good beginning,” said Kathleen Kelly, Executive Director of Family Caregiver Alliance/National Center on Caregiving. “As awareness of the benefits of paid family leave increases, so will usage among Californians who are so often caught in the middle between work and family demands.” Kim Kruckel, Education Coordinator for the Paid Family Leave Coalition, agreed. “Part of our challenge is to reach out to and educate communities who have not yet learned they’re entitled to these benefits.” To that end, the Coalition conducts workshops and outreach to ensure Paid Family Leave fulfills its potential to help improve the health of California’s families.” The Paid Family Leave Outreach Coalition AT ONE-YEAR MARK, CALIFORNIA’S PAID FAMILY LEAVE LAW BENEFITS THOUSANDS OF NEW PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS Workers Laud Paid Time Off to Spend With Ill Family Members, Newborns : AT ONE-YEAR MARK, CALIFORNIA’S PAID FAMILY LEAVE LAW BENEFITS THOUSANDS OF NEW PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS Workers Laud Paid Time Off to Spend With Ill Family Members, Newborns SACRAMENTO – The Paid Family Leave Coalition and First 5 California welcomed statistics released today that show more than 137,000 workers took advantage of California’s Paid Family Leave Law during its first year. The law provides much-needed relief for workers who cannot afford to take time off from work without pay to bond with a newborn, adopted or foster child or to care for a seriously ill family member. “My time off with my babies was amazing,” said Lorna Richardson Evans, who took paid leave to bond with her triplets. “I took the time off after they came home from the hospital. I would have had to quit my job because my babies needed me. Paid leave gave me the opportunity to keep my job and be with my children. I was able to take care of them because they were so small and so preemie. They needed me.” California Employment Development Department statistics show that, since July 1, 2004, more than 150,000 parents applied for paid leave benefits to bond with a newborn while 20,000 Californians took time off to care for a seriously ill family member. Rob Reiner, Chair of First 5 California, a state commission dedicated to improving the lives of children ages 0 to 5, was particularly pleased to note that 17 percent of parents applying for bonding time were fathers. “Study after study tells us that the parent-child bond during the first few months of life is vital to a child’s healthy development,” said Reiner. “It’s good to see fathers taking advantage of this opportunity.” PAID FAMILY LEAVE FIRST YEAR DATA (July 1, 2004 – June 30, 2005) (Projected from actual EDD data captured through June 10, 2005): PAID FAMILY LEAVE FIRST YEAR DATA (July 1, 2004 – June 30, 2005) (Projected from actual EDD data captured through June 10, 2005) Total Claims Received: 176,085 Total Claims Paid: 137,772 Total Bonding Claims: 155,483 Females Bonding = 83% Males Bonding = 17% Biological Bonding = 98.5% Adoption/Foster Bonding = 1.5% Total Care Claims: 20,602 Females Providing Care = 70% Males Providing Care = 30% Caring for Spouse = 36.3% Caring for Child = 22.1% Caring for Parent = 21.6% Caring for Registered Domestic Partner = 1.3% Caring for All Others = 18.7% Total Benefits Paid: $299,287,454 Average Weekly Benefit Amount (range $50-$840): $409.24 Average Weeks Per Claim: 4.84 Approximate Number of Covered Workers: 12 Million Percentage of Women Receiving SDI for Pregnancy Who Choose to Take PFL to Bond = 49.3% Slide34: Title: Family leave Published: Ventura County Star Date: July 7, 2004 About this cartoon: A new California law will allow employees in all but the smallest companies to take paid time off for urgent family situations, such as welcoming a new baby or caring for elderly family members. Politicians might posture about supporting "family values," when they often mean something else, but this is a real-world illustration of supporting true "family values." Policy Innovation and Action in the States: Policy Innovation and Action in the States State policy makers, researchers, and advocates for women, children, seniors, and working families are mobilizing behind a range of innovative proposals to make family and medical leave more affordable. The bills before state lawmakers in 2004 vary in the types of leave they cover and the funding they use. For data collected on specific states, please contact: National Partnership for Women and Families http://www.nationalpartnership.org Berkeley Media Studies Group: Berkeley Media Studies Group Making the Case for Paid Family Leave: How California’s Landmark Law Was Framed in the News Berkeley Media Studies Group 2140 Shattuck Ave. Suite 804 Berkeley, CA 94704 510-204-9700 http://www.bmsg.org
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