New bills would ensure 3 months of paid family leave for new Florida parents

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia
Published: Updated:

New parents in Florida could soon spend more time with their newborns and get it paid for. Lawmakers are considering two bills that would give parents three months of paid leave.

The bills (SB-1194 and HB-899) introduced Tuesday by Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa and Rep. Tracie Davis of Jacksonville would guarantee the right for parents who have been with their current employer for a year and a half.

The story has been a hot topic for you, with many people supporting it but others who say companies shouldn’t be on the hook for people to spend that much time at home.

Business owners we talked to downtown said they liked the idea, but that’s just a small sample size and they run small businesses with a handful of employees.

Getting a majority of lawmakers to go along with the idea figures to be an uphill battle.

Whether you work as a server or in a tech start-up, the bill, if passed, would help new parents spend more time with their new child.

The measure calls for three months paid leave for moms and dads when a baby is born or a child is adopted.

Jessica Atwood is a mother of four and wishes that kind of help was around when she had her kids.

“It was so heartbreaking because I wanted to be home with the kids. I didn’t want to have to go back to work immediately, especially six weeks later,” she said.

This is not the first time a lawmaker has proposed family leave legislation.

Lee County’s Dane Eagle, the republican majority leader in the State House, said he won’t support the bill as written because of what he called “unintended consequences.”

“What if an employer then decides, ‘Well, I’m not going to hire a woman because now I’ve got to pay them three months where I’m not getting any productivity out of them,'” said Eagle.

But we talked with some small business owners who support the legislation.

“Frankly, I think it’s long overdue,” said Cal Bruno, owner of Bruno’s Brooklyn. “I’m all for it. We come from a family where my mom literally raised us. She didn’t have to rush back to work, so I think it’s a great thing.”

“In our company when that’s happened, we’ve planned ahead and people did take what they need,” said Jason Dolle, owner of Testimonial Tree.

“It’s scary having a baby,” said Atwood, “and you don’t want to have that date looming over you when you have to go back to work. You want to focus on being at home and really being comfortable.”

Eagle said he would be willing to hear ideas on how the State could provide incentives to businesses that offer workers a more generous paid leave option.

We reached out to Governor Ron DeSantis’ office for his thoughts on the legislation, but we have not yet heard back.

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