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State Sen. McBride introduces paid family and medical leave legislation

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Democratic state lawmakers are starting their push for paid family and medical leave for all Delawareans.


State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Claymont) introduced the paid family and medical leave bill last week, calling it an important social safety net.


She says she was inspired to fight for these benefits after caring for her late husband Andrew following his cancer diagnosis.


“He needed to focus on his treatment every single day in order to try to save his life and I had to be there in order to help him survive,” McBride said. “We were able to do that because of paid leave benefits.”


McBride says she was lucky to have access to paid leave from her employer, but many Delawareans aren’t as fortunate, leaving some families to choose between their health and putting food on the table.


She says the legislation would create an important safety net for Delawareans, while making the state more attractive to workers and employers.


“This would help Delaware win the competition for talent by providing this benefit and keeping up with the best practices we’re seeing increasingly among employers, but also in more and more states,” she said.


Neighboring New Jersey and nearby Washington D.C. are among those with paid leave.


Currently, less than one in five Americans have access to paid family leave in their state.


The bill would give most workers in Delaware 12 weeks of paid time per year to take care of serious medical needs, a pregnancy or care for family members.


The pay would cover up to 80% of their average salary, a maximum of $900 per week.


The state Department of Labor would administer the program much like it does unemployment benefits.


McBride says that means small businesses could take advantage of the program without additional stress on human resources, and small companies will be exempt from the tax.


Funding would come from a payroll tax on all businesses over 20 employees. That means the bill requires a 3/5 majority in both the state House and Senate to pass.


McBride says she’s received positive feedback from fellow lawmakers — and the bill has support from both House and Senate Democratic leadership.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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