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Bill Would Provide Paid Family Leave to New Parents in Pennsylvania

A bill to be introduced in Harrisburg would allow parents of newborn children to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

“This is a policy that’s in effect in almost the entire industrialized world and in a number of states in America as well," said sponsor Sen. Daylin Leach. "It’s a standard benefit of employment.”

The bill would only apply to companies with more than 20 employees and to employees who work more than 20 hours per week. The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but that is not an option for many low-income workers.

“This particular policy leads to reductions in government spending later, leads to better outcomes in terms of future kids not getting into poverty, not getting into trouble,” Leach said. “It reduces child mortality. It’s all good.”

But opponents worry about what such a mandate would mean for smaller businesses that would have to pay hourly workers for the leave. Leach said the same arguments are made for raising the minimum wage or any worker benefits and added that the doomsday scenarios of lost jobs because of such policies never come to fruition.

“It would be nice if Pennsylvania was a leader for once,” he said. “Every European country, every industrialized Asian country already provides this and somehow they have had boom times. There have been recessions, but not because of this. They’ve managed to do this without dramatically impacting the economic cycle.”

The bill is still in draft form, and Leach is seeking cosponsors. He said he hopes to introduce the bill in the next two weeks. It will then be referred to a committee.