New version of family leave bill with opt out for smallest businesses moves out of committee


A substitute version of the paid family leave bill moved out of the Health & Social Services Committee to the  Senate Wednesday.

In the most significant change, the  23-page Senate Bill 1 now allows employers of ten or fewer to be exempt, with employers of 10 to 25 exempt from all but parental leave.

Employers with 25 or more employees will be subject to all parental, family caregiving, and medical leave provisions of the wide-ranging bill authored by State Sen. Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington.


The bill was introduced in the latter days of last year’s session, but no action was taken. The bill has several co-sponsors, all Democrats.

The bill would set up a fund, similar to the employment insurance system, minus a federal component to compensate those on leave for 80% of their pay for up to 12 weeks.

Provisions also address protections for employees who apply for benefits and are then fired.

Small business owners, led by the National Federation of Independent Business, have cited the program’s costs for small employers and the effect of the legislation on a labor shortage that is expected to continue this year.

The bill would lead to the state hiring more than 60 individuals who would process requests for leave.

Nine states have paid leave legislation on the books with varied provisions. Gov. John Carney expressed support for paid family leave in his State of the State address.

Click here to read the substitute version of Senate Bill 1.