Americans may finally get paid family leave. here’s what to know

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Creating a federal benefit has been a long-standing priority for many Democrats that allows new parents as well as workers recovering from illness or taking paid leave from work to care for sick family members.

Democratic leaders are scrambling to put a paid vacation benefit in the package while trying to win the vote of a prominent liberal, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has raised concerns about the provision.

The 10-year spending plan, originally valued at $3.5 trillion, calls for expansion of education, health care and child care support as well as tackling the climate crisis and further investment in infrastructure. Democrats are close to a deal, though it is likely to fall back in size and scope to what Biden previously proposed.

America behind

The United States currently has no federal paid family or sick leave benefits, making it an outlier among developed countries.

this is the only nation that doesn’t offer Some of the 38 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development granted leave to new mothers. Policies vary among countries in that group, but there is an average of 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. In Germany, which has one of the most generous benefits, mothers receive their full salary for 14 weeks and then 44 weeks of partial pay.

Most of those countries offer paid sick leave benefits as well as some paid leave for fathers.

Millions of Americans have no paid leave

The federal government created a nationwide unpaid family and sick leave policy in 1993 through the Family and Medical Leave Act. It allows workers to recover from serious illness or to care for newborns or family members with serious health conditions to take 12 weeks of leave without losing their jobs – but doesn’t guarantee any pay. It comes with a lot of exclusions, which leaves many people working for smaller employers, some who work part time and Employees who have not been with their employers for at least one year.

In the absence of a federal mandate, many private employers as well Six States and Washington, DCOffer paid family and sick leave. Three more states have passed laws to establish these benefits and plan to start paying them in the next few years.
Still, millions of Americans are left without benefits. About this 77% of workers no paid family leave and 22% have no paid sick leaveAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Low-income workers are less likely to have access to paid leave.
In recent years, there has been some bipartisan support for paid leave benefits at the federal level. In 2019, Congress voted to provide all federal workers Parental leave with 12 weeks of paid leave – a policy endorsed by Ivanka Trump, the daughter of former President Donald Trump, who served as one of his senior advisers.
Congress also provided Temporary paid family and sick leave Benefits last year to help workers get through the pandemic if they contracted Covid-19, were caring for family members who fell ill or lost child care when schools suddenly closed .

How a Federal Benefit Might Work

A proposal submitted by House Democrats would allow workers whose employers don’t already offer paid family or medical leave to apply directly to the Treasury Department for benefits when they need it.

Those eligible would include parents who welcome new children through birth, adoption or foster care and care for employees recovering from serious illnesses or critically ill family members. They will receive partial pay, the percentage of which is based on a sliding scale, so that the lowest-income workers will receive 85% of their regular wages and the highest earners 5% – excluding those earning more than $250,000 a year.

The federal government will pay for benefits and partially reimburse employers who already offer paid family and sick leave.

Policy experts say even if the proposal is reduced from 12 to four weeks, it could still have a significant impact on many Americans.

“One in five employees don’t have a sick day. This will be a real game changer for them a month,” said Kathleen Romig, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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