Pennsylvania Senate Committee Passes Family Care Act for Paid Leave

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HARRISBURG, PA — On Tuesday, the Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved Senator Maria Collett’s (D-12 Montgomery) Family Care Act, also known as Senate Bill 580, with an 8-3 vote. This legislation aims to create a statewide paid family and medical leave program.

Senate Bill 580 proposes the establishment of the Pennsylvania Family and Medical Leave Program and the Family and Medical Leave Fund. It assigns responsibilities to the Department of Labor & Industry and includes provisions for legal action and penalties for non-compliance.

Addressing Critical Needs

“Far too many of Pennsylvanians are forced to make the impossible choice between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads or caring for a new or sick family member,” said Senator Collett. “For far too long, the Senate majority has stalled on bringing up vital legislation like my Family Care Act to ease those burdens.”

Collett expressed her satisfaction with the committee’s decision. “I was thrilled to see the Senate Labor & Industry Committee pass Senate Bill 580 today, bringing us one step closer to delivering paid leave to working Pennsylvanians — and a competitive edge to our small businesses.”

How It Works

The legislation allows workers to make small deductions from their weekly earnings into a state-run employee benefit program, managed by the Department of Labor & Industry. Workers can then access these funds in critical situations:

  • To care for themselves or a close family member with a serious illness
  • To care for a new child, including adopted children
  • To care for a military family member under qualifying circumstances
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Collett first introduced the Family Care Act in 2019, inspired by her constituents, the Swain and Sheeder families. They shared their heartbreaking story about the loss of their infant daughter, Emersyn, to a congenital heart defect and the challenges they faced without paid leave. Collett reintroduced the bipartisan legislation this session, co-sponsored by Senator Devlin Robinson.

Legislative Journey

For SB 580 to become law, it must pass the Senate Appropriations Committee and a Senate floor vote before moving to the Pennsylvania House. The House version of the bill, HB 181, has already passed the House Labor & Industry Committee and Appropriations Committee and is awaiting a full floor vote in the House.

If the bill reaches Governor Josh Shapiro’s desk and gets signed into law, Pennsylvania would join thirteen other states that offer paid family and medical leave to eligible workers.

Why This Matters
  1. Financial Security: Paid family and medical leave provide financial stability for workers during critical life events. This reduces the stress of choosing between income and caregiving.
  2. Public Health: Allowing workers to take time off for health-related issues without losing income can lead to better health outcomes and less strain on public healthcare systems.
  3. Economic Stability: Small businesses could benefit from reduced employee turnover and increased productivity as workers are more likely to return to their jobs after taking leave.
Pennsylvania on the Path to Paid Leave Progress

The approval of SB 580 highlights growing bipartisan support for social safety nets. By passing this bill, Pennsylvania would align with national trends towards recognizing the importance of paid leave for economic and social well-being.

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The passage of the Family Care Act through the Senate Labor & Industry Committee marks a significant step toward providing paid family and medical leave to Pennsylvanians. As the bill progresses through legislative hurdles, it promises to bring much-needed relief and security to thousands of workers across the state. If successful, Pennsylvania will join a group of states leading the way in offering comprehensive support to its workforce during life’s most challenging moments.

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