Press-Republican

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February 19, 2014

Gillibrand touts paid Family Medical Leave Act

PLATTSBURGH — A local woman’s story was used Tuesday morning to illustrate the need for paid medical leave insurance.

Kristin DeVoe of Plattsburgh, the mother of three young children, told her story at a news conference about the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, held at the OneWorkSource building in Plattsburgh.

In December 2012, her daughter, Malyiah, then 3 years old, suffered burns over 30 percent of her body.

Malyiah spent five weeks in the hospital, first at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington and then at Shriner’s Hospital in Boston — with her mother by her side the entire time.

When Kristin returned to Plattsburgh, there was an eviction notice on her door.

After five months of 24-hour-a-day care for Malyiah and her other children, Kristin sought to return to her job, only to learn she had been replaced.

“I’m hoping that other people do not end up in this situation,” she said. 

On a brighter note, Kristin said Malyiah has made a full recovery and was at that moment playing in the Family Connections program offered by the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country downstairs from the press conference.

PORTION OF WAGES

Cases such as Kristin’s are what has led U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to introduce the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. It would provide 66 percent of a worker’s typical monthly wages for up to 12 weeks.

She said that, too often, people face a decision on whether it is more important to keep their job or care for a loved one.

“I feel that is a choice a family shouldn’t have to make,” Gillibrand said.

She said the act is also of importance to businesses, which can lose a valuable employee if someone has to leave under such circumstances.

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