HARRISBURG – June 5, 2019- Senator Maria Collett (D-Montgomery/Bucks) and Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) held a press conference today to introduce their legislation, “The Family Care Act,” to establish a statewide Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.
Alongside family leave advocates and the bills’ cosponsors in the House and Senate, Senators Collett and Laughlin stressed the necessity of this legislation for families who struggle to stay afloat after a serious medical diagnosis or the birth of a new child, as well as the positive impact this legislation will have for small business owners. Every day, Pennsylvanians find it nearly impossible to care for themselves and their loved ones without access to paid family and medical leave.
Jackie Swain and Chris Sheeder of Upper Moreland Township experienced this firsthand. In 2018, the parents received the news that their infant daughter Emersyn had a congenital heart defect. Without access to paid family and medical leave, Emersyn’s parents struggled to make ends meet while spending months in the hospital with their daughter before her tragic passing.
“There is nothing in this world harder than losing a child to a prolonged illness,” said Jackie Swain, who shared her family’s story at the press conference. “It was devastatingly hard, not just emotionally, but financially.”
“As the Pennsylvania workforce changes and grows, our work policies must also evolve to serve a growing and diverse population with increasing challenges,” said Senator Collett. “As the mother of a young child, the caregiver for my 84-year-old father and wife of a chronic cancer patient all under one roof, I know firsthand that the Family Care Act will provide real stability for employees and their families during the most uncertain and crucial moments of their lives.”
“This is not a new or revolutionary idea,” Senator Laughlin added, pointing to several other states that have already enacted similar leave programs. “This program will provide the needed financial stability that will allow hardworking Pennsylvanians to care for their families.”
Under “The Family Care Act,” all working individuals would make small contributions from their weekly earnings to the leave program, which would be administered by the Department of Labor & Industry. Workers can then utilize the fund when they need it – to care for themselves or a close family member in the event of a serious health condition, to care for a new child, or to care for a member of the military in qualifying circumstances. Leave benefits will be calculated on a graduated scale to make sure the program is accessible to all workers, regardless of how much they earn.