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The Senate minority leader filed a bill to protect paid family leave for all state employees who give birth, even in cases of stillbirth.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book (D-Davie) and Rep. Hillary Cassel (D-Dania Beach) filed legislation to protect paid family leave for all state employees who give birth, even in cases of stillbirth. 

The lawmakers, who are mothers, highlighted the importance of families having a period of adaptation after the arrival of a new member.

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“Paid family leave is critical for ALL mothers, regardless of the circumstances of their child’s birth. If you have given birth, you deserve time to heal. We are going to protect that for State employees,” Book, the mother of five-year-old twins, said in a statement.

The leader also said they filed SB 576  in response to the case of a Washington DC first-grade public school teacher who was denied paid family leave in 2021 because she could not provide a birth certificate for her stillborn daughter.

“When a mother is forced to say goodbye and make plans to bury her baby instead of bringing her baby home — still struggling with postpartum hormones, with her milk coming in, with the physical trauma of birthing a child, and the emotional pain of this great loss — there is no reason to deny her paid leave. This is a bipartisan issue and a compassionate, family-first policy that puts the physical and mental health of mothers first,” Cassel said in the statement.

This is Book’s third year filing the legislation, as it has not passed during previous legislative sessions.

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Under current Florida law, all state employees are entitled to paid family leave following the birth of a child. Book and Cassel’s bill will protect this right in cases where a child is stillborn.

“This bill will ensure mothers of stillborn children receive paid family leave if they are employed by the State of Florida. Situations like this are hard enough, and the State should not make them any more difficult,” Book said.

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