The United States Department of Labor says that only 12% of non-government workers have access to paid family leave in the American workforce. Yet, President Trump’s budget proposal included a paid leave benefit for new parents. But, now the President’s daughter (Ivanka Trump–a self-described paid leave champion), says it may be back to the drawing board on the proposal. Ms. Trump met with “bipartisan scholars” during the week of June 5, 2017 (according to the Los Angeles Daily News on June 9, 2017) and reportedly stated the plan in the budget proposal was a “placeholder” but the administration is open to other ideas. A White House official confirmed the plan outlined in the budget was an initial effort and the administration was “open to revising it” according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The initial proposal would provide six weeks of paid leave to new parents and adoptive parents. The states would be responsible for the cost of the benefit, likely through taxes. Virginia’s Governor is quoted by the Los Angeles Daily News as saying that the states are not interested in “any more unfunded mandates from the federal government.” In that same article, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was quoted as being willing to take a look at it.
In February of this year, lawmakers introduced the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (FEPPLA), giving federal employees up to 6 weeks of paid leave after the birth, adoption or fostering of a new child. However, the bill has stalled. Likewise, a universal paid family leave bill was submitted to Congress in March of this year.
Meantime, another change may be coming on the paid time off front: The House introduced a bill (the “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017”) to permit private employers to award compensatory time instead of overtime (that is, awarding 1.5 hours for every hour over 40 hours worked in a week to non-exempt employees). However, employees would not be permitted to accrue more than 160 hours of “comp time.” Employees also have to agree to the practice and it cannot be a condition of employment. Furthermore, the bill requires employers to pay out any unused comp time on or before each January 31 for the prior year and, of course, since these are “wages” they must be paid upon termination, too. The bill passed the House (with no Democrats voting in favor) and moved to the Senate in early May. Some working family advocacy groups say such legislation would cause employees to have less control over their schedules. But, could it be a boon for a parent who needs some paid leave for the birth of their child? It remains to be seen if the Senate will pass the bill and Congress’ calendar currently has them off for the first full week in July and all of August.