Miller calls for passage of Family Care Act amid COVID-19 outbreak
HARRISBURG, March 12 – With the possibility of schools and businesses having to shutter their doors due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, state Rep. Dan Miller is calling for the passage of H.B. 1739.
The bipartisan legislation, also known as the Family Care Act, is a crucial bill that would provide a critical benefit to families forced to stay home during times of sickness or unexpected emergencies, such as the COVID-19 outbreak, Miller said.
“This pandemic emphasizes why we need the Family Care Act. The majority of Pennsylvania workers do not have paid leave, and if businesses and schools are closed, many may struggle to pay the bills.” Miller said. “Obviously we hope that this current situation does not lead to such drastic closures statewide, but it might. And the reality is that there is no guarantee that this virus or one similar doesn’t continue to plague us for years. We need to offer greater security to our workers and families now.”
Miller, who is a prime co-sponsor of H.B. 1739, said the measure would establish a statewide Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, which would call for all working individuals to make a small payroll contribution to support the initiative. Miller said by doing so, eligible employees would be able to care for themselves in the event of a serious health condition, care for a close family member with a serious health condition, or care for an aging parent or new child.
Miller said benefits through this program would be calculated on a graduated scale by using a percentage of the statewide average weekly wage to ensure the program is accessible to low-wage workers. This, according to Miller, would enable workers to utilize the fund when they need it, retain their jobs and return to work, rather than go on unemployment or state entitlement programs.
Similar state insurance funds already are in place in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Washington and Washington, D.C., Miller noted.
“There are other paid leave bills that are in the House too, and I am open to discussing them all. I am calling on the House Labor and Industry Committee to prioritize a meeting as soon as possible to address this issue,” Miller said.