Press Release: FAMLI Task Force Report Shows Strong, State-Run Paid Family and Medical Leave Is Good Policy for Colorado

For Immediate Release
January 7, 2020
Contact: Olga Robak (303.229.9447)

Denver, CO – The Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Task Force issued its final report today, making recommendations for a strong, state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program for Colorado. The Task Force reached broad consensus on 14 of the 16 elements, resulting in 21 recommendations, among them support for a social insurance model administered by the state.

The report shows the Task Force was unanimous on 14 recommendations, including that the program should be regulated and managed by the State’s Labor Department, should cover both family and medical leave (including time off for military caregiving needs or domestic violence), allows self-employed workers to participate, and allows employers to offer their own equivalent PFML plans in place of a state plan.

“The Task Force Report is a result of six months of work by more than a dozen stakeholders, including private employers, economists, worker organizations, and former government officials,” said Kathy White, Deputy Director of Colorado Fiscal Institute and a Task Force member. “This data-driven report shows everyone at the table was united in their belief that Colorado would benefit immensely from a PFML program that is strong, accessible, and equitable. The broad consensus we reached on 14 of the 16 elements and the 21 recommendations issued should give legislators clear directives on how to draft a public benefit program that covers as many workers in Colorado as possible.”

The Task Force recommendations will be considered by legislators as they draft a strong PFML policy for Colorado. The Task Force concluded that a state-run social insurance model was most reliable and has been proven successful by other states. All three independent experts who presented to the Task Force agreed a social insurance program is more predictable, portable, and affordable for workers, providing the greatest benefit at the lowest price. The report also presented a number of timeline options for creating and implementing a new PFML policy in Colorado, including options for an aggressive implementation timeline.

“The people of Colorado have been waiting for a vigorous Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program for more than half a decade and with the final Task Force Report now public, we have a good road map and well informed recommendations for an effective and equitable program that benefits as many workers as possible,” said Judith Marquez, a Task Force member and Co-Director of 9to5 Colorado. “The Task Force was in broad agreement that a social insurance model would be the most solvent way to run a Paid Family and Medical Leave program in Colorado. This is great news, seeing how the actuarial report sponsored and delivered by Pinnacol Assurance created many questions about the affordability of their plan and potential discriminatory practices in hiring it could enable.”

On December 23, Pinnacol Assurance delivered an actuarial report that showed wide ranging premium costs based on gender (with men paying significantly less than women for the same benefits) and a higher price tag for less generous benefits than under the state’s actuarial study. The Pinnacol study did not project a confidence level of program solvency, showed a lack of clarity on rate fluctuations, and projected overhead costs higher than those of a state-run plan.

While the Task Force report includes nearly two dozen recommendations, it left unanswered some of the most pressing questions, such as duration of leave, who can be exempt from the PFML program, and how long workers must be with an employer before they are offered job protections. Now it will be up to state lawmakers to work out the details, but one thing is clear: a strong, solvent Paid Family and Medical Insurance program for Colorado is within reach.