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State legislators hold bipartisan listening tour on family and medical leave

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State Sen. Maria Collett (D-Montgomery/Bucks) and state Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) held a listening session Monday, Sept. 16, with dozens of local citizens, where they heard from several local panelists about how paid family and medical leave would impact their families, their businesses, and the people their organizations serve.

Thomas has sponsored HB 1739 and Collett is the lead co-sponsor on SB 580. Both pieces of legislation were introduced earlier this summer.

“As a small business owner employing 37 people, a constant concern is the ability to compete for talent. Small businesses can’t afford to provide paid leave on their own. However, the Family Care Act will allow us to compete with larger firms when it comes to attracting and keeping the best candidates,” said Susan Maslow, a panelist and partner at the Antheil Maslow & MacMinn law firm.

Another panelist, Mahria Morris, added “As a self-employed managing member of Headstrong Hair Salon, the ability to opt-in to a state paid leave program through this legislation is exactly what I need. This legislation would have helped me immensely following the passing of my husband, the father of our children. The lack of paid leave at a time when I most needed to care for myself and my family put a financial burden on us.”

The Family Care Act, , introduced as SB 580 and HB 1739, would establish a statewide insurance fund, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and supported by a small payroll deduction of half a penny per dollar earned, and would cover leave for self-care and care for a family member.

“It’s time that we in the legislature help ensure that employees throughout the Commonwealth have the tools they need to thrive in the workplace,” said Collett. “It will give hardworking Pennsylvanians the ability to invest small deductions from their weekly earnings into a state-managed fund so that when they need to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one, they can retain their jobs and remain financially secure.”

Thomas and Collett also heard from panelists who work with the Commonwealth’s growing elderly population and with individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. “The number one reason I hear for working Pennsylvanians needing time off is to care for an elderly parent,” said Thomas.

“Most Americans cannot sustain their families for more than two weeks without a paycheck,” said Thomas. “The Family Care Act is a simple, well-tested mechanism. Similar state insurance funds are already in place in our neighboring states of New York and New Jersey. To keep our most talented workers from going elsewhere, we need policies that help young families, but do so without placing additional pressure on the state budget.”

The Family Care Act has been referred to the Senate and House Labor and Industry Committees and is awaiting further action.

The Family Care Campaign is a statewide coalition of organizations. To learn more, visit familycareact.com.


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