Family Stability and Children’s Development: Why Paid Family Medical Leave for All Workers Makes Sense

June 3rd, 2021

Category: Policy and Practice

At a Glance...

Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) would create a statewide paid family medical leave insurance program that would provide up to 12 weeks paid family medical leave for a qualifying event.
-The U.S. is the only country with an advanced economy that does not provide workers paid family or medical leave. Delaware is one of many states that does not have a policy.
-Decades of research demonstrate the benefits for young children and families.
-Many are forced to choose between their work job and family responsibilities. This has a devastating effect on women (especially women of color) in the workforce.

The United States is the only developed, high-income country that does not provide workers paid family or medical leave. Some states have begun to change this by implementing paid family and medical leave—a policy that provides benefits for families, businesses, and children. For example, paid family and medical leave policies can provide families the time and space to foster their child’s development during the crucial early stages while keeping their health and economic status stabilized.

Delaware recently adopted a paid family leave plan for state employees but does not yet have a statewide policy that is accessible to all workers. A new bill introduced this session looks to change that so all workers and business owners have the what they need to care for their families and strengthen the economy.

Paid Family Medical Leave Legislation in Delaware

Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), introduced by Senator Sarah McBride and supported by the Delaware Cares Coalition, would create a statewide paid family medical leave insurance program that would provide up to 12 weeks paid family medical leave for a qualifying event. The bill currently includes the following as events that qualify:

  1. To address a worker’s own serious health condition.
  2. To care for a family member with a serious health condition.
  3. To bond with a new child.
  4. To handle safety matters for victims of domestic violence.
  5. To address the impact of a family member’s military deployment.


National and State Context

While some states have implemented versions of paid family and medical leave, the vast majority of workers in the U.S. lack access. Currently, approximately 85 percent of working people do not have access to paid family medical leave.

Delaware is one of many states that does not have a paid family medical leave policy. The state passed legislation in 2019 that provides state workers (including educators) with 12 weeks of paid parental leave after birth or adoption of a child under age six. While a step in the right direction, this legislation only provides some of Delaware’s workforce with access to the benefits that a paid family medical leave policy provides.

Some workers in Delaware are eligible to take unpaid leave, but even unpaid leave remains inaccessible for 54 percent of working Delawareans. Without access, many workers are forced to choose between job and family responsibilities. The pandemic has exasperated this problem for women, especially women of color, in the workforce. The National Partnership shared that the Delaware’s labor force lost 13,000 workers by the end of 2020. Even more startling, more than two-and-a-half times as many women were unemployed by the end of 2020 compared to 2019.

The Benefits of Paid Family Medical Leave

A paid family medical leave policy supports healthy child development and family wellbeing. It also can positively impact businesses, such as early childhood providers, and the workforce.

 

As we look to the remainder of the 151st General Assembly, we will be watching to see Delaware if becomes the 10th state to provide this important opportunity to support children and their families.

Resources to Learn More

Advocates across the state have formed Delaware Cares, a broad, cross-sector coalition in support of a paid family medical leave policy in the first state. A plethora of resources can be found on their site, with some listed below.




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Author:
Kelsey Mensch

KMensch@rodelde.org

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