Bill Would Grant Delawareans 12 Weeks of Paid Family, Medical Leave

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The Healthy Delaware Families Act (SB 1) has been introduced in the Delaware General Assembly – a bill that would make up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave available for workers.

The measure sponsored by State Senator Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington / Claymont, would make leave available if a worker experiences a serious illness, has a new child in the family or needs to adjust to recent military deployment. A statewide insurance program would cover the cost.

“More than anything else, this pandemic has shown us just how desperately Delaware’s working families need common-sense policies that work for them,” McBride said. “No family should ever have to make the impossible choice between earning a paycheck and quitting their job to stay at home with a newborn or care for a family member who is fighting for their life. This legislation will give working Delawareans the security and peace of mind that comes from knowing they will be able to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads even while facing some of the most common challenges we experience as human beings.” 

McBride and other supporters Wednesday said nearly 60-percent of workers in Delaware do not have access to even unpaid leave. Many also have no protections under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act that was passed by Congress in 1993.

The family and medical trust fund that would be created to support the proposal would be funded through payroll contributions equaling less that 1-percent of an employee’s weekly pay and divided equally between a worker and the employer. Businesses with fewer than 20 workers would not be required to pay the employer’s portion of the premium, but the workers would still be covered.

Eligible Delaware workers could receive up to 80-percent of their average weekly wages through the insurance program if they need to take extended time away due to a major medical event.

“Perhaps no bill being considered by the 151st General Assembly will have as profound an impact on quality of life in our state as legislation establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program for Delaware workers,” Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, D- Newark / Bear said.

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