Back in December I somewhat addressed this topic with my post Mandated Paid Sick Leave- an inevitability? Now we see movement toward mandatory paid family and medical leave with the introduction of a bill in Congress. Is the time this trend will come to be?
The US in last place
According to the website Think Progress, the U.S. is just one of three countries out of 185 in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave. The other two are Oman and Papua New Guinea. Even countries not known for the most progressive treatment of women, such as Iran, offer paid maternity leave. Seventy other countries offer paid paternity leave. The amount of paid maternity leave runs the gamut from 12 weeks in Iran to 40 weeks in Great Britain. Paid paternity leave runs from one week in the Bahamas to 3 months in Iceland. The U.S. is acknowledged to be pretty poor in insuring mothers and fathers are taken care of as they take care of their families.
This is why the Democrats have introduced a bill in Congress called The Family Act. Playing off of the FMLA, this act would provide for 12 weeks of partial income, at 66% of monthly wages. Unlike the FMLA, which covers only employers with 50 or more employees, this bill would apply to all employers regardless of size. It would be funded by payroll deductions which are contributed to by both the employer and employee. It would be administered by a new agency created to distribute the funds.
The likelihood of passage
Given that this bill is only supported by the Democrats the passage of this bill is unlikely in this Congress. But that does not mean that we won’t eventually see such legislation being passed on a national basis. President Trump actually seems receptive to the idea according to attorneys Robert Ortbals Jr. and Spring Taylor of the firm Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP. They said:
President Trump campaigned on giving six weeks of paid maternity leave to working moms who gave birth. During his recent Congressional speech, the President may have expanded on his campaign proposal by speaking in terms of paid family leave, which would presumably be available to fathers as well as mothers. His paid-leave plan is still being crafted.
Orbals and Taylor however, see paid FMLA time leaking its way into American business through the efforts of state legislation. Currently five states have some form of legislation in place or planned. The public seems receptive to it, with a poll showing 72% of Americans favoring some sort of leave.
As we age
As the baby boomers age, the responsibility for taking care of them will fall to their children. The Gen-Xers and the Millennials, as voters, may see the need for help taking care of their parents. As Millennials start families shifting attitudes about work may have them applying pressure on their governments to mandate paid time off.
These shifting attitudes, and the growing pressure on employers to attract more and better talent, will also force companies, even without a government mandate, to offer more and better time off for family and personal reasons.
Let’s face it. It is a trend whose time has arrived. Companies will be best served by considering it now and staying ahead of the curve.