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Paid family and medical leave bill signed, goes into effect July 1

Governor John Carney signs the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill.
Paul Kiefer
Delaware Public Media
Governor John Carney signs the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill.

In front of a cheering crowd, Gov. John Carney signed a paid leave bill into law, providing 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to every Delawarean, in nearly every line of work.

“Four years ago, the state led the way as our largest employer by offering 12 weeks of paid leave to new parents," Carney said. "It's been really helpful for those parents. Now, parents in almost every line of work will have the same benefit.”

Seasonal businesses and businesses with 10 or fewer employees are not covered under the legislation.

Carney says the 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave created by the new law will also help Delawareans caring for aging parents – something almost everyone will face in their lifetime.

State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Claymont) was the bill’s prime sponsor.

“Throughout this effort, hardly a day went by when I didn’t hear from Delawareans who either saw their lives enhanced because they were one of the lucky ones who were able to access paid leave already," McBride said. "Or more frequently, the Delawareans who when facing the most human of challenges, were forced to choose between their job, and their health. Their family, and their paycheck.”

Other legislators including House Sponsor Rep. Debra Heffernan (D-Brandywine Hundred) and House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) both recounted stories from mothers in their districts who were forced to return to work just weeks, or even days after giving birth, because they couldn’t afford not to.

“Today our government makes clear that we have seen your pain and heard your calls for change," McBride said. "As elected officials we can’t stop all loss or prevent every challenge, but we can make life a little bit easier when hard times hit.”

The law also creates a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Account Fund, which will be kickstarted with nearly $18 million in one-time funding in the state’s 2023 budget. Ongoing funding will come from a payroll tax split 50-50 between employers and employees.

The law takes effect on July 1 this year. Delaware is now the 11th state, plus Washington DC, with paid family and medical leave.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.