VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

The debate over paid versus unpaid family medical leave

Once considered a harmless term, “entitlement” has become a weaponized word.

A paid family leave proposal as part of the 2018 federal budget is moving through the halls of Congress. As expected, the “e-word” is being bandied about, as if it needed more connotations that are negative.

Conversely, those supporting the paid family leave initiative prefer the term “investment.” They are reaching across hyper-partisan aisles to convince lawmakers of its value now and in the future.

Currently, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) mandates 12 weeks of leave for workers needing the time off to attend to family responsibilities. Often used for the birth or adoption of a child or care for the employee or an immediate family member, employers are not required to pay the employee on leave.

In seemingly any other setting, the idea of families not having to sacrifice income for much-needed time off would be an attractive proposition. However, the proposal is being met with a certain level of resistance, and not necessarily because the daughter of President Donald Trump is leading the charge for paid family leave.

In a letter to the President, more than 100 House Democrats are expressing concerns with not only the way to fund paid FMLA, but also its limited application. Simply put, they believe that six weeks of unpaid FMLA should become 12 weeks of paid family leave, if only for consistency’s sake.

Democratic Party leaders are countering Ivanka Trump’s initiative with what they see as a more comprehensive alternative. Funding would come from contributions made by employers and employees.

In a strange form of cross-party unity, Republicans are also reticent, but for different reasons. Their concerns revolve around the proposed $19 billion to be spent over the next ten years to fund paid family leave. One alternative being floated comes from Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) involves creation of a Parental Savings Account for employers to save money for leave without their employers contributing.

For more information on the Family Medical Leave Act, contact VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP, at 606-618-0698.

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