HR Policy Association

Universal Paid Leave Bill Reintroduced

U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced an updated version of their signature legislation to create a permanent, national paid family and medical leave program (H.R.3481 and S.1714).

The new bill includes some notable changes from previous versions introduced in Congress: 

  • Gives eligible workers access to paid leave for all existing FMLA purposes, and adds recovering or seeking assistance related to domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.

  • Provides paid leave for up to 12 weeks and does not include a waiting period - benefits are payable immediately.

  • Expands the definition of “family” to include blood or affinity.

  • Like the 117th Congress bill, businesses can “top up” wages or duration if they so choose.

  • Would enable the lowest-paid workers to earn up to 85% of their normal wages, with the typical full-time worker earning around two-thirds of their wages.

  • The benefit would be paid for by a 0.2 percent payroll tax on employers and employees, based on the Medicare taxable wage base.

  • The benefit would be administered through a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within the Social Security Administration. 

Background: Previous versions of the FAMILY Act have been introduced over the last decade with technical updates. The current bill has been updated to include substantial changes (as mentioned above) to make it look more like the paid leave bill that passed the House last Congress as part of the larger reconciliation package, before eventually being removed from the final reconciliation bill. 

Outlook: The FAMILY Act will serve as a Democratic marker to create a national paid leave program. However, with a divided Congress it’s not likely to gain any traction. Meanwhile, the bipartisan Paid Leave Working Group, led by Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Colin Allred (D-TX), Julia Letlow (R-LA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) is working towards development of a separate bill. The group sent a letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) calling on them to join their efforts to create federal paid leave policy. It’s likely that we’ll see legislative text from the bipartisan Paid Leave Working Group early next year. In the meantime, Representatives Houlahan and Bice are confirmed to speak at the Association’s Washington Policy Conference in September. During the conference we’ll discuss the efforts of the Paid Leave Working Group and several other labor and employment issues before Congress. 

Published on: May 19, 2023

Authors: Chatrane Birbal

Topics: Employment Law, Federal Health Care Reform, Washington Updates

Chatrane Birbal

Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations, HR Policy Association

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