Nebraska legislators continue debate on “The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplace Act”

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Jared Barton 
CONTRIBUTOR

On Jan. 14, Nebraska legislators continued debate on bill LB305, “The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplace Act.”

The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplace Act’s purpose is multiple. Its most widely understood effect, if passed, will require employers with more than four employees to allot their employees one hour of paid time off per 30 hours worked.

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), roughly 73% of small businesses already offer paid time off (PTO), so this portion of the bill will potentially close the existing gap.

Bob Halstrom, Nebraska State Director of the NFIB, pointed out a potential flaw in the bill shortly after its introduction, asserting that the four-employee limit was too low, at least without specifying part or full-time status.

“Most paid leave proposals in other states have a much higher employee count, which would still burden small business owners immensely, but LB 305 would apply to employers with four or more full- or part-time employees, making it more onerous,” Halstrom said.

While the question of the numerical limit hangs in the balance, another more prevalent issue arises. Survivors Rising asserts that the bill’s passage is essential for a healthier workplace environment for survivors of domestic abuse.

Jenny Bullington, in a statement for Survivors Rising, said the bill would help substantially by making PTO more available.

“Often times, pre-trial conferences would get scheduled according to what would work for my lawyer, not necessarily for me, and I would be told to show up with no other options given,” Bullington said.

Bullington said this sort of situation also allows the abuser more control over their victims by way of their children. Not having a certain level of PTO accessibility prevents victims from adequate access to their children, which abusers can take advantage of.

“There would be times when my children would get sick, and even if it wasn’t technically my custody day, my abuser refused to pick up a sick child from school, therefore, I’d have to,” Bullington said.

According to Survivors Rising, 3.3 million children a year witness violence against their female caretaker.

“No longer able to control or hurt me, another way to get to me was by using the children,” Bullington said.

Survivors Rising’s goal is not only to raise awareness of survivors’ workplace issues, but also to help accommodate survivors in regard to such issues. This bill would “start creating a climate of safety and encouragement for those who are fighting a battle outside of the workplace.”

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