Members of the General Assembly will introduce House Bill 3, legislation that would allow state workers to care for their familieswithout sacrificing pay.
If passed, Delaware would join Ohio, Illinois,Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, and Washington D.C. in extending the benefit to public workers.
Four states, including New Jersey, offer paid family leave for all employees. The programs are financed through a payroll tax.
The bill has co-sponsors from both parties, although the event announcing the bill was held by Democrats.
A fiscal note offered the following cost estimate:
Fiscal Year 2019 $ 1,239,672
Fiscal Year 2020 $ 2,479,344
Fiscal Year 2021 $ 2,479,344
Gov. John Carney hosted the announcement in his Legislative Hall office as lawmakers returned to Dover for the second half of the 149thGeneral Assembly.
“Delaware can and should lead on this issue,” said Carney. “This legislation is about supporting our state workers – and creating a workplace that values family. Workers deserve time to spend with their families when their children are born, and this benefit will help us attract and keep good employees. Thank you to the state workers, members of the General Assembly, and advocates who are leading on this issue. I urge lawmakers to offer their full support for this legislation.”
Supporters say the United States is one of only nine countries in the world – and the only industrialized nation – that does not offer paid maternity leave, and one of only a handful of high-wealth nations that does not offer paid paternity or parental leave.
Under the legislation, full-time state employees, including teachers, would be eligible for 12 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave after one year of employment. New parents would be eligible for leave for up to one year after the birth of a child, or the adoption of a child under the age of six.
“The bond between a parent and either their newborn or adopted child is the most fundamental element contributing to the healthy family unit as we envision it,” saidDr. Richard Henderson, president of the Medical Society of Delaware. “The 12 weeks of paid parental leave after giving birth or the adoption of an infant or child up to 6 years of age proposed in this bill removes the economic penalties and pressures associated with this life-altering choice. Equally as important is that it provides for the opportunity for this critical bonding to occur. The physicians of Delaware are glad to see the Governor’s support for this important legislation.”
State Rep. Daniel Short, House Minority Caucus Leader, questioned the cost of the bill, given the condition of the state’s finances. A past study indicated that while state workers sometimes make below-market wages, their benefits are well above those of the private sector.
The measure could also draw opposition from business leaders who may fear that the measure will open the door to applying to additional employee groups.