President Trump has released his proposed budget, and in the arena of employment law, one budget item stands out: a proposal for national paid parental leave.
While a few states including California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have enacted legislation providing for varying amounts of paid maternity or family medical leave, federal leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which includes provisions for parental leave, has always been unpaid.
In the budget, President Trump proposes allowing six weeks paid maternity and paternity leave to allow new parents, including adoptive parents, time to care for and bond with infants.
The paid leave would be administered through state unemployment offices. The proposed budget states that paid parental leave would be paid for entirely through, among other things, savings accomplished by eliminating improper unemployment insurance payments and getting unemployed individuals back to work more quickly. Thus, the direct proposed cost to employers is $0. However, this figure does not include costs associated with being short staffed or the possibility that employers’ state unemployment taxes may increase.
Additionally, the benefit to employees is not defined in the budget. Instead, the budget provides that parental leave would be mandatory, and will allow states “broad latitude” in designing and financing the program.
Whether House Republicans will support paid leave has yet to be seen. While some may be reluctant to support new social programs – especially one that could potentially raise taxes for employers – others may be receptive to the idea of a national mandatory paid parental leave law. Some House Democrats may offer support for the paid leave program; though others will likely be aiming for a more expansive paid leave program.
If passed, the program would cost approximately $18.5 billion over the course of ten years and would be effective in 2020.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.