Dec 08 2015

Fischer and King Introduce Bipartisan Paid Leave Bill

Strong Families Act Would Provide Tax Incentives to Employers Who Provide Paid Family or Medical Leave

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Angus King (I-Maine) announced this morning they have reintroduced legislation that would offer employers incentives to voluntarily provide paid family or medical leave to their employees. The bill, known as S. 2354 – The Strong Families Act, offers new options for working families.

Senator Fischer released the following statement:

“I’m proud to join my friend Senator Angus King to reintroduce a bill to provide needed flexibility for working families. Employees face the increasingly complicated demands of caring for aging parents and young children while balancing careers and workplace schedules. Our bipartisan legislation is an important step forward to offer more workers, particularly low-wage, hourly workers, peace of mind and the opportunity to earn pay while meeting needs at home.” 

Senator King released the following statement:

“Because of our country’s outdated family leave policies, working parents too often have to struggle to balance the needs of their families and the needs of their job. That’s not how it should be in America today and that’s why this legislation aims to provide them with the flexibility they need to succeed in both. By bringing family leave policies into the 21st century, we can make it easier for working Americans to make a living and take care of their families at the same time – all of which will only help strengthen our workforce and allow us to better compete in today’s global economy. I’m pleased to join with Senator Deb Fischer to reintroduce this common sense and much-needed bill.”

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires employers of 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This time can be used for events like the birth or adoption of children, serious medical issues, or providing care to close family members. The challenge for many working families, particularly hourly workers living paycheck-to-paycheck, is that current law does not address paid time off.

The Strong Families Act would enable working families to have continued access to pay while they are meeting necessary family obligations. The Fischer-King plan would create a tax credit to encourage employers of any size to voluntarily offer paid leave for workers. It does not include any new mandates.

Details of the proposal, which is paid-for by budgetary off-sets, include the following:

·         To be eligible for the tax credit, the employer must, at a minimum, offer two weeks of paid leave; they may offer more.

·         Paid leave would be available on an hourly basis and would be separate from other vacation or sick leave; part-time employees qualify for paid leave.

·         For each hour of paid leave provided, the employer would receive a 25 percent non-refundable tax credit. The more paid FMLA time the employer offers, the greater the tax credit.

·         This tax credit would be available to any employer with qualified employees, regardless of size.

·         Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who participate in the program.

Click here to view text of The Strong Families Act.

Click here to read the joint Fischer-King CNN op-ed on paid leave from 2014.

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