Gov. John Carney on Tuesday signed Senate Substitute 2 for Senate Bill 1 into law.
The legislation creates a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program, offering eligible Delaware workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to address a worker’s own serious health condition; to care for a family member with a serious health condition; to care for a new child; or to address the impact of a family member’s military deployment.
The measure will go into effect in Delaware on January 1, 2025.
Under the bill, businesses with fewer than 25 workers would not be required to participate in the medical and family caregiving area of the program. Businesses with fewer than 10 workers would not be required to participate in parental leave but may opt-in. Employers with comparable benefits would be able to opt out of the program in whole or in part.
A fund similar to unemployment insurance, would finance the program, with employer and employee kicking in the proceeds.
“This legislation will build on the work we’ve done for state employees and extend paid leave into the private sector. It’s the right thing to do and it will make Delaware more attractive for younger workers,” said Gov. John Carney. “Thank you to Senator McBride and Representative Heffernan for their leadership on this important issue.”
“Today is about families and the most Delaware of values: that in a state of neighbors, we share a duty to care, to support one another when we need it most and to look out for each other’s family like we do our own,” said Stae Sen. Sarah McBride. “My heart is full of gratitude for the many advocates and leaders who supported taking real action for the new moms forced to go back to work days after giving birth, for the parents fundraising online to make up for wages they lost while caring for a sick child, and for the patients who had to forgo treatment to pay their rent or keep food on the table,” she said. “Through collaboration and compassion, we have shown that small states can do big things for the people we represent.”
The legislation had its share of critics, who said it would place an undue burden on small businesses that struggle with the temporary loss of employees and are also facing a $15 minimum wage in 2025.
Supporters countered by saying that the legislation will be a positive factor in attracting and retaining workers.
The measure had widespread support from organizations like AARP, which praised provisions that would aid people dealing with a seriously ill or dying family member