Wis. bill would require time off work for organ donors

Can Wisconsin employers be a little more supportive of employees who are willing to give a little piece of themselves to save someone else’s life?

A legislator whose husband died while waiting for an organ transplant hopes so, but is proposing a law today to mandate it anyway. Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, wants Wisconsin to mandate that employers allow six weeks of unpaid leave to employees who donate organs.

Her husband died in March while awaiting a kidney and pancreas transplant.

Federal allow requires 12 weeks of leave for a medical condition, but it doesn’t define living donors in the category, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

Darling’s bill would allow unpaid leave of up to six weeks, depending on the time necessary for the specific procedure and recovery, for bone marrow or organ donation after employees have logged 52 weeks and at least 1,000 hours at their workplace.

Though the measure could provide job security for organ donation, it would not address the non-medical costs of organ donation that many donors incur. Such costs, including lost wages, transportation, lodging and child care, typically run about $5,000 to $6,000, reports say.

Wisconsin was the first state, in 2004, to let living donors take a tax deduction of up to $10,000. Thirteen other states offer tax deductions today, and three others — Idaho, Louisiana and Utah — offer tax credits of up to $5,000 or $10,000, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Only people who itemize their taxes can take deductions, and the maximum savings is about $1,000. Tax credits allow greater savings.

In Minnesota, employees are allowed a leave for organ donation but only if they work for the state, county, city, town, school district, or other governmental subdivision.