The Healthy Families Act passed the Delaware Senate by a 14-7 vote on Tuesday.
All seven Senate Republicans voted no, citing the cost to businesses.
The bill would create a fund, financed by a payroll tax shared by employers and employees, to pay for parental leave and care for loved ones.
The bill has been modified to meet some of the concerns of the business community. (See story link at the bottom of this post).
It follows the passage of family leaves legislation for state employees under a separate program.
Passage of the bill, sponsored by Stare Sen. Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington, drew sharp criticism from one business group.
“It’s very disappointing to see the Delaware Senate press forward with a bill that will have an outsized and negative impact on small businesses and their employees. The fact is, small business owners, do everything they can to meet the needs of their workers, especially when they have family members in need of palliative care. But this bill creates a payroll tax that will cost owners and workers at a time when they least can afford it,” said Mike O’Halloran, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.
Striking a more conciliatory tone waa the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Business Roundtable, which issued the following:
“When the first iteration of the Healthy Delaware Families Act— or Senate Bill 1 — was introduced in 2021, we were concerned about the major impacts it would have on the business community, particularly on Delaware’s small businesses. Over the last year, we engaged many key partners to receive feedback, which led to conversations with the bill’s sponsor to address these concerns.
The current version more closely reflects the Federal Medical Leave Act. It provides clearer definitions and more time for employers to evaluate their current policies, react, and plan for the future.
As we continue to look at the bill, we are pleased that it is increasingly closer to a policy that allows both employers and employees to appropriately deal with life events while recognizing the economic realities of running a business.”
A handful of states have passed paid parental leave bills. The United States is the sole nation among 41 first-world nations without paid parental leave.
The legislation now goes to the House.