Is There Paid Family Leave in the Future?


By: David Cole

President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal included a request for a paid leave program. The program would provide six weeks of mandatory paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child for mothers and fathers whose employer doesn’t provide the benefit. The estimated cost could reach $25 billion over 10 years, which states would finance through their unemployment insurance programs along with funding from the federal government achieved through budget cuts in other areas.

So far, Republicans have not warmed to the idea, arguing that it amounts to an entitlement program. But recently, Ivanka Trump wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal in which she responded to the criticism and supported the proposal. “Providing a national guaranteed paid-leave program — with a reasonable time limit and benefit cap — isn’t an entitlement, it’s an investment in America’s working families,” she wrote. She also argued that the availability of paid leave is needed to “encourage both parents to share parenting responsibility and to strive toward minimizing hiring biases.”

Yet while Republicans think the proposal goes too far, Democrats don’t think it goes far enough. Over 100 Democrats have now written a letter to President Trump expressing concerns over the proposal.  They are pushing for other Democrat-sponsored bills that would provide for 12 weeks’ paid leave, matching the entitlement provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act. They also argue that paid leave should not be limited to the birth or adoption of a child, but should also include leave needed to care for one’s self or a sick family member.

Only time will tell where this ends up. In the meantime, employers should remember that California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey already have laws that require paid family leave for employees who need to care for sick or disabled family members or a new child. New York will join them with a new law that goes into effect January 1, 2018. If all of this sounds like a lot, here is a handy reference chart of state family leave laws. Also, our Labor & Employment attorneys are always here to help if you have questions or need guidance.

For any questions, please contact David Cole at [email protected].