The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that grants time off for a family or medical issue. The law guarantees that if an employee invokes his or her leave rights that the employer cannot fire or otherwise retaliate against the employee. This law does not apply to all businesses, though, and it does not require employers to pay the worker for the time off.

NPR explains there is another federal law for federal employees only that gives them 12 weeks off paid but nothing for those in the private sector. States are trying to make laws on their own to offer paid leave to everyone. Some states already have such laws on the books. Colorado is working on this now.

Funding problems

The biggest issue with passing any type of FMLA bill that includes the requirement to pay employees is funding. The existing bills at the federal level and in states with these laws receive funding through additional payroll taxes. Colorado started to build its bill in the same way.

However, some lawmakers are against a payroll tax. Since the Colorado program’s initial proposal was to be a social insurance program, some lawmakers worried that the state would not collect enough in payroll taxes to pay for the overall costs of the program.

Other issues

Lawmakers also struggle with agreeing about the detail that the program should be state-run. Some have brought up concerns that such a program will burden employers because it leaves them little control to meet the needs of employees and can lead to economic concerns.


The original idea was a state-controlled program, but due to concerns, changes now have the program as a more flexible option that gives employers greater control. Employers can define their own details for their own employees. However, this change is not something everyone accepts. Some lawmakers feel it is too much of a compromise.