Are Adjustments Coming to Federal Paid Household Go away Legal guidelines?

Paid family and sick leave has been a topic of discussion since the Family and Sick Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in 1993 and is high on the wish list of employee representatives. The paid leave was supported by numerous Democratic presidential candidates and many Democratic members of Congress. It was consistently part of the Democratic Party’s platform in presidential elections. In recent years, it has also begun to gain support from Republican officials. As a Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump called for a national paid family vacation plan. Ivanka Trump has been campaigning for paid family vacations since the Trump administration began. Additionally, over the past year, some high profile Republican Congressmen have shown varying degrees of support for paid family and sick leave.

Federal action

In 2018, Republican Senators Marco Rubio from Florida and Bill Cassidy from Louisiana tried to provide non-partisan impetus on the issue. Senator Cassidy, working closely with Ms. Trump, held hearings in Congress on the matter, and Senator Rubio proposed a bill, the Economic Security for New Parents Act, which provides two months of paid parental leave. According to his proposal, new parents could delay their social security benefits in exchange for two months of paid benefits. The bill made little progress in Congress. Much of the discussion focused on the impact on the continued viability of social security when funds were used to finance non-pension needs. Some expressed concern that a paid vacation program funded by social security benefits could lead to a different use of the funds.

There’s no question that a paid vacation program that allows new parents to balance the competing demands of work and family is an attractive asset. A recent poll found that 54% of Americans believe the government should require employers to have 12 weeks of paid family and sick leave. Only 29% of the respondents disagreed. The apparent popular support and mounting political pressure from both sides of the aisle for some type of vacation program make federal action more likely than not.

President Trump’s most recent budget proposal, as part of its focus on helping working families, includes a provision that gives all new parents access to paid family leave. It proposes at least six weeks of paid family leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents. There is no mention of paid vacation for the health of family members or family members. In response, the Democrats made a proposal that addressed both issues and allowed families 12 weeks of paid vacation. How such a vacation would be financed remains a sensitive question. In addition to concerns that social security benefits could undermine the program, there is no consensus on whether it should be funded by employers, or rather a combination of employee and employer contributions. Other open questions are how high the percentage of the wage replacement should be and for how many weeks. Despite these open questions, the momentum for some form of federal paid family and medical leave is growing steadily, even if the details remain unclear.

We will probably not take action until long after the 2020 elections. However, bipartisan support for a federal mandate for paid vacation practically ensures that it becomes a reality regardless of which party is in control after the elections.

State action

It has become more and more common for states to step into the labor order and enact regulations when the federal government does not act. State minimum wages are a good example. The rise in government minimum wages has exploded in recent years. This is partly because the Department of Labor did not raise the federal minimum wage above the current $ 7.25 an hour. There is a consensus that it is seriously out of date. The battle for $ 15 has also helped states act. Most states today have a minimum wage that is well above $ 7.25 an hour. The same type of government policy applied to paid family and sick leave. More than 24 states are currently working on their own guidelines for paid family leave, and 7 have actually legislated, with the list of additional states growing rapidly.

On June 25, 2019, Connecticut became the 7th state to sign a paid family and sick leave benefit for public and private employees. It is said to be one of the most generous in the country. Employees are entitled to 12 weeks of paid vacation and an additional two weeks for “a serious state of health that leads to incapacity for work during pregnancy”. Employees who take such leave are entitled to a wage replacement of up to 95%. Benefits are tied to the state minimum wage, which gradually increases to $ 15.00 by June 1, 2023. The other states that have laws governing paid vacation are California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington. Washington DC has similarly enacted a paid vacation law.

The number of paid vacation weeks that each state law allows varies, as does the dates on which services can be used. For example, Washington DC law provides for 2 to 8 weeks of paid vacation that can be taken starting July 1, 2020. The paid vacation in California that has already been taken provides benefits for up to six weeks. On July 1, 2020, the benefit period was eight weeks. The Massachusetts Plan, which pays benefits starting in 2021, provides 12 weeks of paid family vacation or 20 weeks of medical vacation per year. The plan, which has also already come into force in New Jersey, currently provides benefits for up to 6 weeks. On July 1, 2020, the benefit period was increased to 12 weeks. New York law currently provides 10 weeks of paid family and sick leave, which will be increased to 12 weeks in 2021. The Rhode Island plan already provides 4 weeks vacation. The Washington Plan, which began paying benefits January 1, 2020, provides for up to 12 weeks of paid vacation and two additional weeks of paid vacation for pregnancy-related complications.

The amount of benefits paid during vacation varies widely from state to state. For example, in Connecticut, it’s a multiple of the state’s minimum wage, which is capped at a maximum dollar amount. In other government plans, benefits are structured as a percentage of wage replacement up to a maximum dollar amount. No government plan provides full compensation for lost wages. However, given the discussion about free health care, independent college, and similar ideas leading up to the 2020 elections, it is possible that federal or state governments will soon support fully paid sickness benefits. It can only be a matter of time before we see such a proposal.

The May 2019 passing of Maine, which gave employees 40 hours of paid vacation for any reason, not just family or medical reasons, was another significant addition to the concept of paid vacation. A practically identical law was passed in Nevada in June 2019. Going forward, there doesn’t seem to be any question that more states will move towards mandatory paid family and sick leave, with a handful already going beyond that.


Rick Alaniz, JD of Alaniz Associates, has been a leader in labor and employment law for over forty years. He began his legal career as a trial attorney at the Department of Labor, was a member of the President’s Cost of Living Council during the Nixon administration, and also held prominent positions on the National Labor Relations Board, first in Washington DC and later in Minneapolis, where he worked coordinated the NLRB’s enforcement efforts in the Midwestern region with five states.

As a partner in private practice since 1985, his experience only deepened Rick’s enthusiasm for labor law and his pursuit of continued excellence in the field. He is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in labor and labor law. Rick writes dozen of labor law articles annually in trade magazines and conducts numerous seminars each month for client companies and trade associations across the country.

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