Healthy Delaware Families Act making progress towards becoming law
DELAWARE – The Healthy Delaware Families Act is making progress towards becoming law. The bill would create a 12-week paid family and medical leave program in Delaware. Monday, bill sponsor Senator Sarah McBride introduced Senate Substitute 1 to bolster the legislation.
Sen. McBride says the Substitute helps align her bill more closely with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), in terms of eligibility, covered leave, and covered relationships. “This essentially builds out on the FMLA framework,” she said. “We will learn a lot over the next couple of years and can continue to build out, based on those lessons learned. But, this will help ensure that Delaware has a statewide insurance program that provides necessary, life-saving benefits to Delaware workers.”
In Delaware, about 60% of workers do not have access to unpaid leave under the FMLA. Women of color reportedly experience even harsher consequences of unpaid family and medical leave. That’s because 82% of Black mothers and 56% of Latina mothers are the primary breadwinners in their households.
Paid family medical leave for Delawareans is long overdue, according to Sen. McBride. “Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from Delawareans who are in desperate need of paid family and medical leave. Delawareans have been forced to sacrifice their income in order to start a family, or in order to get life-saving cancer treatment, or in order to take care of a loved one,” she said. “Even more, I’ve heard from Delawareans who weren’t able to sacrifice their income, and therefore had to sacrifice necessary treatment, or had to put off starting a family, or had to not be there by the side of a loved one through a scary and tough illness.”
Sen. McBride says the promise of paid family and medical leave could be a win for Delaware’s business community. “Paid family and medical leave is the kind of policy that doesn’t just work for businesses, it doesn’t just work for our health. It also will help Delaware win that competition for talent, to keep and attract workers to our state,” she said.
Governor John Carney recently voiced his support for paid family and medical leave in Delaware during his State of the State address. “Younger workers aren’t just looking for a job; they’re looking for a way of life,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do, and it will help attract a talented workforce to live, work, and raise their families in Delaware.”
Senate Substitution 1 is expected to be considered in the Senate Health and Social Services Committee, chaired by Sen. McBride, on Wednesday.