Nevada lawmakers want state workers to get 8 weeks of paid family leave each year

Naoka Foreman
Naoka Foreman

State lawmakers are hoping to retain more staff through a bill that would give all state workers eight weeks of paid family leave in a year should someone wish to care for seriously ill immediate family members, welcome home a new baby or participate in a qualifying event surrounding a family member’s military deployment.

Under existing law, state workers are entitled to 12 unpaid weeks of family and medical leave commonly called FMLA.

If AB376 passes, state workers would receive 50 percent of their wages for eight of the 12 weeks. The proposal mirrors a law in California that allows workers to file a claim for unpaid wages no earlier than the first day of taking leave but within 41 days of the start of workers’ family leave.

“The idea of the bill stemmed from a number of internal conversations the treasury’s had during the interim on how to recruit and retain our employees,” Treasurer Zach Conine said Tuesday during the bill’s hearing in the Assembly Committee of Government Affairs. “We’re endeavoring, if you will, to put the human back in human resources.”

To qualify, workers have to be on the job for at least 12 consecutive months and have accrued at least 40 hours of sick leave before filing a claim. Under the “flexible” policy, workers are not required to take eight weeks of paid family leave consecutively or all at once.

One entity that submitted a fiscal note — the Nevada System of Higher Education — acknowledged that there would be a cost to cover the work responsibilities of people who are on leave, but said it couldn’t give a clear dollar estimate because it is impossible to predict how many people would take advantage of the benefit.

The bill specifies qualifying family members, events, serious illnesses and more. For example, employees can take paid family leave to bond with a newborn child they birthed or with a newborn child their domestic partner birthed. Domestic partnerships must be registered with the secretary of the state to be eligible for this type of leave.

Seriously ill is defined as “a medical illness, physical injury or condition that substantially affects the quality of life of a person for more than a short period of time” such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer, lung disease, heart, renal or liver failure and similar chronic diseases. The policy defines family members as “a parent, sibling, child by blood, adoption or marriage, spouse, grandparent or grandchild.”

Assemblyman Duy Nguyen (D-Las Vegas) said he would like the policy to take things a bit further by including 100 percent wage reimbursements specifically for new parents.

“I remember I was able to take two months off as a father … and it was 100 percent pay and I know we can’t be completely there yet at this point,” he said. “But as you know, being a new mother and father, it's busy. You have a lot of busy work and you’re trying to get adjusted and the last thing you want to worry about is your money coming in.”


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