Del. State Senate Passes Family & Medical Leave Package

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In a 14-7 party line vote, the State Senate has approved legislation to require that paid family and medical leave be offered by the private sector in Delaware
What’s called the Healthy Delaware Families Act would grant eligible full-time employees up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave a year and up to six weeks of paid family caregiving leave, medical leave or military leave every two years. Workers who must take extended time off due to a major family or medical event would be able to earn up to 80-percent of their average weekly wages through a state insurance program created by the legislation.
Earlier Tuesday, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and Delaware Business Roundtable released a statement saying that conversations with the bill’s sponsor helped address concerns, and that the current version more closely aligns with the Federal Medical Leave Act. The Chamber and the Roundtable said the bill moves close to a policy that “allows both employers and employees to appropriately deal with life events while recognizing the economic realities of running a business.”
The legislation goes to the House for consideration. All seven Republican senators voted against it.

Statement from the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and Delaware Business Roundtable:

When the first iteration of the Healthy Delaware Families Act—or Senate Bill 1—was introduced in 2021, we were concerned about the major impacts it would have on the business community, particularly on Delaware’s small businesses. Over the last year, we engaged many key partners to receive feedback, which led to conversations with the bill’s sponsor to address these concerns.

The current version more closely reflects the Federal Medical Leave Act. It provides clearer definitions and more time for employers to evaluate their current policies, react, and plan for the future.

As we continue to look at the bill, we are pleased that it is increasingly closer to a policy that allows both employers and employees to appropriately deal with life events while recognizing the economic realities of running a business.

The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting an economic climate that strengthens the competitiveness of Delaware businesses and benefits citizens of the state. Founded in 1837 as the Wilmington Board of Trade, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce has a long history as the largest, most influential business organization in the state. The State Chamber is uniquely positioned to bring parties together to solve problems, create jobs, promote business, and improve the quality of life for all Delawareans.

The Delaware Business Roundtable is a non-partisan, volunteer consortium of CEOs whose companies collectively employ over 75,000 people in Delaware. Since its inception in 1981, the Roundtable’s broad mission is to enhance the quality of life in Delaware by promoting commerce, job creation and select public policy issues.

Statement from National Federation of Independent Business Delaware Director Mike O’Halloran:

“It’s very disappointing to see the Delaware Senate press forward with a bill that will have an outsized and negative impact on small businesses and their employees. The fact is, small business owners do everything they can to meet the needs of their workers, especially when they have family members in need of palliative care. But this bill creates a payroll tax that will cost owners and workers at a time when they least can afford it.”

About NFIB

For more than 75 years, NFIB has been the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit www.NFIB.com.  

“Today marks a historic milestone in our fight to make sure working families in Delaware are never again forced to make an impossible choice between earning a paycheck and staying home to welcome a newborn or provide care for a family member fighting for their life,” State Senator Sarah McBride, D-Claymont said. McBride is prime sponsor of The Health Delaware Families Act. 

“This legislation, crafted through good-faith negotiations, reflects both real compromise and one of the most impactful new employment benefits in our state’s history,” McBride added. “I’m grateful for the unanimous support from my Democratic colleagues in the Senate and I look forward to working with my friend and co-sponsor Rep. Debra Heffernan as she leads the way to get The Healthy Delaware Families Act to passage in the House.” 

“We should do everything we can to support businesses and the employees who work there,” Governor John Carney said. “Younger workers aren’t just looking for a job; they’re looking for a way of life. This legislation builds on the work we’ve done for state employees and extends paid leave into the private sector. It’s the right thing to do, and it will help attract a talented workforce to live, work, and raise their families in Delaware. Thank you to members of the Senate for passing this legislation, and to Senator McBride for her leadership on this important issue.” 

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