Bill allowing employees leave time to care for family members advances
State Director Bob Hallstrom reports from Lincoln on the legislative week ending February 1.
The first 17 days of the 2019 legislative session have gone relatively smoothly as legislative committees have been conducting public hearings and methodically advancing bills to the floor for consideration by the full Legislature. To date, none of the bills given first-round consideration involved extended debate or controversy.
NFIB Committee Activity
NFIB State Director Bob Hallstrom submitted testimony January 28 to the Business & Labor Committee in opposition to Legislative Bill 306. Sen. Sue Crawford (Bellevue) introduced the legislation, which would treat an individual leaving his or her employment to care for a family member with a serious health condition as having good cause for voluntarily leaving employment under the Unemployment Insurance Act.
Following the public hearing on LB 306, the bill was advanced to General File on a vote of 6-0 with a proposed amendment that would require an employee to make “all reasonable efforts (e.g., taking a leave of absence or considering an alternative work schedule) to preserve employment” prior to voluntarily leaving employment to care for a family member with a serious health condition. (NFIB Position – Oppose)
The Business & Labor Committee has scheduled hearings February 4, regarding the following bills to which NFIB is opposed:
Legislative Bill 254 – Fair Chance Hiring Act/Ban the Box: Introduced by Sen. John McCollister (Omaha), LB 254 would prohibit public and private employers and employment agencies from asking an applicant to disclose, orally or in writing, information concerning the applicant’s criminal record or history, including any inquiries on any employment application, until the employer or employment agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications. The bill would apply to employers with 15 or more employees. (NFIB Position – Oppose)
Legislative Bill 305 – Healthy and Safe Families and Workplace Act: Introduced by Sen. Sue Crawford (Bellevue), LB 305 would allow employees to accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time accrued in a calendar year. Under the measure, employees would be entitled to use accrued paid sick time beginning on the 60th calendar day following commencement of employment. Paid sick leave would be authorized for:
- an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- an employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- an employee’s need for preventative medical care
- care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- care of a family member who needs preventative medical care
- absence necessary due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
(NFIB Position – Oppose)
Legislative Bill 311 – Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance Act: Introduced by Senator Crawford, LB 311, beginning July 1, 2021, would establish a statewide paid family medical leave insurance program similar to Nebraska’s unemployment insurance system and managed by the state Department of Labor. While employers would not be directly responsible for funding the family medical leave program, they would be required to pay all other benefits to which an employee would have been entitled in the absence of the leave, as well as all other benefits offered to the employee (vacation, sick leave, etc.) and to allow the employee to return to his or her position after exercising the right to family medical leave. (NFIB Position – Oppose)
Previous State Capitol Reports
[Photo of Sen. Sue Crawford courtesy of Unicameral Update, the Nebraska Legislature’s official news source since 1977]