Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass "Grand Bargain" Raising the Minimum Wage and Guaranteeing Paid Family and Medical Leave

Bill raises the state minimum wage to $15 per hour and creates the state’s first paid family and medical leave program

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Wednesday to pass a bill boosting the state minimum wage and establishing a paid family and medical leave program.

Hailed as a “grand bargain” between lawmakers, activists and business groups, the bill, H. 4640, incrementally raises the minimum wage from $11 to $15 per hour over five years and creates a permanent sales tax holiday weekend every August.

It also implements a paid family and medical leave program — only the sixth in the country — that guarantees workers up to 12 weeks of family leave and up to 20 weeks of medical leave. The program does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

“This compromise is a major win for Massachusetts workers and families,” said Sen. Lesser. “It gives us the highest state minimum wage in the country, tied only with California. And it guarantees paid family and medical leave so that no one is punished for taking time off work to care for a loved one or bond with a newborn or adopted child. As the cost of living continues to rise across the state, these measures aggressively expand protections for workers and families, representing a big step forward that advocates have worked decades to achieve.”

Paid family leave, an idea first introduced in America in the 1990s, is considered a vital piece of the worker safety net as wages have stagnated and the cost of living has increased. The state minimum wage, meanwhile, has not been raised since 2014 and has not kept pace with inflation.

The bill will now go to the Governor’s desk for his signature.