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Broomfield City Council votes to opt out of FAMLI insurance program

In a 7-1 vote, the Broomfield City Council voted to opt out of Colorado’s family and medical leave insurance program.

FAMLI is a social insurance program that provides covered employees with 12 weeks of paid leave from work for certain qualifying reasons, such as caring for a new child, caring for themselves or a family member with a serious health condition, who make arrangements for ‘ a family member’s military deployment, or to address immediate security needs and the impact of domestic violence for themselves or a family member, according to the resolution memo. The program provides only partial income replacement.

The program will take effect on January 1, but it gives local governments the option to opt out because it affects those employees differently than private businesses.

“The Act offers local governments the option to choose whether participation is right for their employees and their organization as participation will have a material impact on the government entity’s budget, operations and employee relations. Employees of these local governments may decide to participate in FAMLI individually,” the memo said.

Because this is a new program, and program rules have not been fully established, local governments may choose to evaluate the program before deciding to participate.

If the city had not opted out before the start of 2023, it would have had to wait three years before opting out, but since the city has decided to opt out, they must now choose to opt in during any future year. The resolution included a recommendation for the Board to revisit the program next year and reevaluate participation.

Councilor James Marsh-Holschen was not in favor of the resolution and offered an amendment that failed at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“It’s a benefit statewide for the lower-income individuals who really need it, and it’s funded this way because that’s the way the state has figured out how to fund it,” Marsh-Holschen said. “It’s not an individual benefit in my opinion, and for that reason I don’t think we should opt out.”

Marsh-Holschen’s amendment called for CCOB to institute a benefit for employees to begin on January 1, 2024, which would allow eight weeks of paid family and medical leave, at 100% of their salary, for absences of a covered individual who caused by a qualifying condition or requirement.

This amendment ultimately failed in a 2-6 vote because other council members were wary of the unknown financial impact the amendment would have.

“I agree with almost everything Councilor Marsh-Holschen said; I think it’s a benefit that our employees should have,” said council member William Lindstedt. “I don’t think I can vote now to make it a mandate if we don’t know the numbers. I think our employees should be able to weigh in, and I think we should have all that information before a requirement, even though I agree with the intent of this amendment.”

Marsh-Holschen was the only member of the Council who voted “no” on the resolution.

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