Democrats Reintroduce Paid FMLA Bill

February 12, 2021

This week, House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) was joined by 197 other Democrats in introducing a paid family and medical leave measure with strong potential to be passed into law this year.  The FAMILY Act (H.R. 804) would create a federal insurance fund paid for by both employers and employees to provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave—but without providing relief from the existing maze of state and local paid leave laws.

The new leave program would:

  • Require employees and employers to each contribute 0.2% of wages through a new payroll tax;

  • Provide employees on leave up to 66% of their wages, capped at $4,000 a month, for up to 12 weeks;

  • Provide paid leave for Family and Medical Leave Act purposes, including a serious personal or family health issue, to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, or for circumstances arising from a loved one’s military deployment or serious injury; and

  • Guarantee portable coverage so that workers who have multiple jobs, change jobs, or are self-employed are provided with the same leave benefit as traditional employees.

The legislation would NOT preempt state and local laws, nor provide a safe harbor for similar or more generous employer leave programs.  Many employers already provide paid leave for some FMLA situations, often through a disability insurance program.  Under the bill, those employers and their employees would still be required to pay the premiums.

Outlook:  With 197 cosponsors, there is a good chance the House will pass the legislation, but its fate is less certain in the Senate.  Since it is a tax measure, the FAMILY Act could be included in the next budget reconciliation bill later this year, which only requires 51 votes in the Senate.