Paid Family and Medical Leave – Path Uncertain in the Senate

H.66, the House bill imposing mandatory paid family and medical leave, remains in the Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee.  For a reminder on the very expansive, and expensive, key provisions of the House bill, click here for a summary of the bill as passed by the House.  The start up costs of the program would exceed $110 million over three years with $13 million in administrative costs annually, and the first year’s benefit costs are officially estimated at nearly $100 million, but there are reasons to believe they could be higher.

However, it is not yet clear how much time the Senate Committee will devote to the bill.  While paid family and medical leave has been a top priority of the House this year, the Senate has placed a higher priority on child care programs in S.56 (update — see related post here).  In addition, the Senate actually included a more limited version of paid family and medical leave in S.56, specifically a mandatory paid parental leave program.  This might represent as far as the Senate is willing to go on this issue for now, but that cannot be taken for granted.

Under S.56, the Parental Leave Benefit Program would cover the birth or adoption of a child within the preceding 12 months. Each family with annual gross family income up to 600% of the federal poverty level would receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave if the recipient was working prior to the birth or adoption and plans to return to work after taking parental leave. One eligible parent could use all 12 weeks, or two eligible parents could split the 12 weeks. Leave could be continuous or intermittent.  The benefit would be the lesser of $600 per week or the eligible parent’s average weekly wage or self-employment income during the six months preceding the leave.

Just as the future of H.66 is unclear in the Senate, the future of the paid parental leave provisions is unclear as S.56 moves through House Committees.

AIV provided testimony on the key programmatic and cost concerns with H.66 during House consideration of the bill, and will remain engaged with the bill should the Senate Committee take it up next week or later.  Employers interested in more information, updates, or opportunities to engage with legislators on this issue are strongly encouraged to contact us at info@aivt.org.