A group of state lawmakers, including Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks), has re-introduced the Family Care Act for the new legislative session.
Now House Bill 1200, the bill would create a state insurance fund for employees who are caring for loved ones with serious health emergencies.
The Family Care Act has bicameral and bipartisan support. In the House, Thomas, a Republican, and Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny) are co-sponsors. Meantime Sens. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) and Maria Collett (D-Bucks/Montgomery) are co-sponsors for sister legislation in the Senate.
Each lawmaker underscored how a state medical leave program would have made an impact over the past year in the pandemic.
“In Pennsylvania, families should come first,” said Thomas. “And whether it’s a public health crisis or a personal one, at some point, all working families are going to need access to leave.”
If signed into law, the Family Care Act would not raise taxes. Instead, legislators likened it to an insurance plan which would be funded by a payroll deduction of half a penny per dollar earned.
She shared several stories stories from Pennsylvanians who would have greatly benefitted from the Family Care Act.
One was of Langhorne resident James Henderson, who had to care for his grandmother after suffering two strokes. Along with an illness of his own, Henderson was forced to take time off.
Thomas said he struggled both to find time to take off and with the impact those off days had on his finances.
She added the bill helps both employees and employers.
“We need to be able to offer this so our small businesses can compete with our large businesses,” said Thomas. “A few of our large businesses in PA do offer this kind of benefit, and then that puts our small business owners at a disadvantage when they’ve already been fiscally impacted by the pandemic, but can’t afford to offer paid leave themselves.”
More information and stories are available on the Family Care Act Facebook page.