Insights

Policy Watch #3

June 20, 2020

State-wide Leave Policy Blocked

Two bills relating to leave policies in Louisiana were heard during the 2020 legislative session. Both of which were introduced to the House on March 31, the last day of filing bills. The statewide mandatory family and sick leave policy, House Bill 832, was sponsored by Representative Matthew Willard (D).

Businesses with 20 or more employees would have been required to provide paid leave, while those with less than 20 employees would have had to provide unpaid leave. There is no safeguard for people in Louisiana around leave, which would allow employees to take time off when it is needed most without added stress around finances. Financial stress could look like missing a day or more worth of wages or losing a job altogether.

Passing HB 832 would have been extremely supportive to the maternal and child health community in New Orleans and the rest of the state. Leave policies provide state residents with the option to choose the health of themselves and their families over capitalism. Maternal health would benefit from that law by allowing mothers to take adequate time to recover from childbirth in the postpartum period. 25% of women go back to work two weeks post-partum or earlier1. Wage gaps would be impacted as a result, since women are more likely to take time off than men. Louisiana has the largest male-female gap in the country2; Black women make 47 cents to every dollar made by a white man3. Women are typically the primary caregivers, so they have to take off for their own health and the health of those under their care—children, aging parents, or other loved ones.

State-wide mandated leave policies benefit the family by allowing fathers to take off during the postpartum period and to care for children. Added support during the postpartum period is crucial for the recovery and health of both mom and baby. Fathers will have space to bond with the child and allow the mom to rest, reducing postpartum stress.

Below is the list of Committee Members and their votes to involuntary defer HB 832:

Yea (Oppose HB 832)

  • Amedee, Beryl (R)
  • Horton, Dodie (R)
  • Crews, Raymond J. (R)
  • Miguez, Blake (R)
  • Echols, Michael Charles (R)
  • Owen, Charles (R)
  • Frieman, Lawrence “Larry” (R)
  • Owen, Robert “Bob” (R)
  • Henry, Charles Alexander (R)
  • Seabaugh, Alan (R)

Nay (Support HB 832)

  • Carpenter, Barbara (D)
  • Cormier, Mack (D)
  • Cox, Kenny R. (D)
  • Larvadain III, Ed (D)
  • Phelps, Tammy T. (D)

With all of the positives this bill would have brought to Louisiana and the MCH population, it was unfortunately involuntarily deferred on May 7, 2020. Ten out of the fifteen representatives agreed to defer the bill. Much of the opposition rested on the CARES Act leave benefits and the burden it would cause on businesses when the CARES Act sunsets. The involuntary deferment of HB 797 was a blow to the fight for leave policies, especially now in the midst of a pandemic that has greatly impacted the Black community. It unfortunately impacted House Bill 797, which addressed local leave policies.

1Paid Leave for the United States, 2020: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HZ3LKmTDhkRFVG7zTkHVt53Wwi2dyrAd/view
2Banner-Tribune Daily Review, 2020: https://www.daily-review.com/lifestyle/louisiana-has-highest-gender-pay-gap
3National Partnership for Women & Families, 2020: https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/fair-pay/african-american-women-wage-gap.pdf