In President Trump’s proposed budget, we were able to get a better idea of the direction in which the administration wants to go. For example, we saw that the stance towards paid family leave hasn’t changed. For all new parents, including adoptive parents, the President has suggested six weeks of paid leave.
Though this isn’t the first time this has been mentioned, the concerns for implementation are growing. As part of the proposal, workers and employers would also have access to a $1 billion fund in order to aid the creation of child-care programs.
Led by Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), parents who delay Social Security benefits could enjoy between one and three months off after welcoming a new child to the world. Along with Marco Rubio (R-Fla), the two Senators met up with Ivanka Trump recently to discuss the proposal.
For the Democrats, they’re no strangers to the topic and actually supplied their own proposal which would allow families 12 weeks off work not only for the birth/adoption of a child but to look after a family member with health problems; this has been named ‘the FAMILY Act.’
Across the US, the idea is proving popular, and around 24 states have been working on similar proposals. According to the Heritage Foundation, there aren’t many developed countries that still haven’t introduced national paid family leave, but the US remains on this list for now. With this in mind, it forces new parents to rely on either private or state-based paid leave programs.
Sadly, only 13% of Americans are able to take paid leave according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are a number of factors that determine whether or not a worker has access to such benefits including location, wages, and their industry.
Although such programs have received support, there’s also concern for private employers who already have a system in place. While some employers may stop the launch of a new program with an incoming federal program, others might suddenly pull back their programs and leave employees unprotected.
Private Sector Paid Leave and Important Considerations
In the US, it’s thought that the private sector pays up to $100 billion in paid family leave benefits. However, upper-income families take a large percentage of this. Therefore, any potential federal program would need to include the lower-income families; if possible, this could even be done without causing disruption to the pre-existing private programs. Of course, the ideal situation would also see the federal program funded without extra cost to the taxpayer.
In fact, the cost of such a system is a concern that many Americans have currently. If cost is disregarded, around three in every four support the idea of providing parents (and those with medical conditions) with 12 weeks of paid leave, once costs are brought into the equation, only every other person would be willing to pay an extra $200 in taxes to make it happen. Depending on the circumstances, 48% would be willing to pay an extra $450 while only 43% would take an annual increase of $1,200.
In the same Cato survey, around 75% are not interested in a program of this type if it means reducing the funding for Medicare, Social Security, or education. Finally, 57% of people don’t want to cause harm to the federal deficit and therefore would reject the program if this was the case.
In the weeks and months ahead, we’re certainly going to hear more about this story. Can we introduce a system that benefits everybody?