This could be the year the General Assembly passes paid family leave for state employees.
The legislation sponsored by State Rep. Debra Heffernan (D-Brandywine Hundred) offers 12 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave to state employees, including teachers. They would have to work for the state for at least a year to qualify.
Teacher Lori Sebastian says she and her husband have delayed having another child because of lack of paid leave. Her husband is a stay-at-home dad, so the family depends on her salary.
“My family and I just can’t afford for my paycheck to not come. Bills need to get paid, food needs to be on the table and we need to be to take care of our children and ourselves comfortably.”
The legislation applies to new parents who give birth to a child or adopt a child under six years old. If the parents are both state workers, each parent would get 12 weeks of paid leave. Under the proposal, the new parents would stay eligible to take the time off for up to a year.
Gov. John Carney (D) is throwing his full support behind legislation providing state workers with paid family leave.
Carney says while the measure will have a financial impact on Delaware’s budget, it’s worth every penny.
“If we provide this support for paid leave for that family, for those mothers and those fathers - those babies will be healthier, those families will be stronger, and we will be better off as a state.”
If the legislation were to be enacted into law, it would make Delaware the fourth state to offer it to its workers.