Federal Paid Family Leave- Your Next HR Nightmare?

The United States, Papua New Guinea, and Oman are the only nations in the world that don’t have paid maternity leave laws. The U.S. does have the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal law that guarantees employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave each year. In addition to FMLA, many states have enacted Family Medical Leave Laws.

Paid family leave laws are on the Federal horizon. But, don’t hold your breath. President Trump mentioned his support for a paid leave program during a State of the Union address, and CNN reports that “Paid family leave is part of Trump’s American Working Families portfolio” and Ivanka Trump is working to gain support for the paid leave initiative in Congress.

Critics say that so far, the paid leave models put forth by the Trump administration may actually do more harm than good. In fact, Sarah Fleisch Fink, general counsel and director of workplace policy for the National Partnership for Women and Families was recently quoted in Newsweek saying, “The work of Ivanka Trump and her advisers aren’t real paid family leave policies, and that “she would like to see the first daughter push comprehensive paid leave with substantial funding.”

Why so much pushback on Federal paid family leave? Most Americans want paid leave. The problem is that the Trump administration’s proposed plans fall short and lots of critics think they’re garbage. Here’s why:

  • The first proposed plan was viewed as discriminatory in that it offered partially paid maternity leave for women only. Sorry, stay at home Dads. No soup for you!
  • The next plan (concocted by Ivanka Trump and Marco Rubio) suggested that paid leave be funded for new parents by requiring that the parents borrow against their social security benefits. Bye-bye golden years!
  • A recent Trump proposal for paid family plan asks states to use unemployment insurance to cover six weeks of parental leave. That’s not really a Federal law and passes the financial burden to states.
  • So far, none of this administration’s paid family leave plans include anyone other than parents. Meaning they omit anyone who takes leave because of medical issues or family care. Under FMLA non-parental leaves makeup approximately 75% of those who use it.

Navigating local and federal leave laws is a compliance nightmare! C4CM’s webinar, Navigating Leave Laws for Multistate Employers, offers specific compliance steps to ensure your leave policies are lawful and effective. Find out more!

V.L. Brunskill

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