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State of the Union and Paid Family Leave

Published by on February 6, 2015

January 20, 2015 marked President Obama’s penultimate State of the Union.  The President outlined his agenda for helping employees balance their commitment to a steady job and their want to care for a sick child or family member. The President supports his advocacy of paid sick leave by arguing that the United States is the “only […]

January 20, 2015 marked President Obama’s penultimate State of the Union.  The President outlined his agenda for helping employees balance their commitment to a steady job and their want to care for a sick child or family member.

The President supports his advocacy of paid sick leave by arguing that the United States is the “only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave for our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave.” According to a recent White House fact sheet, women make up nearly “half of all workers on U.S. payrolls, and men and women… more evenly shar[e] care-giving responsibilities.”

Obama’s comments came in the wake of a January 15th memorandum directing federal agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid parental leave to federal employees. His plan necessitates that agencies provide Federal employees with an additional six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

Additionally, President Obama called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act. This piece of legislation would, among other things, require employers with 15 or more employees to allow each employee to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. With an eye towards the persistent gridlock on the House and Senate floors, the President’s budget proposes a $50 million State Paid Leave Fund at the Department of Labor that will help states to implement paid family and medical leave programs.

Laconic Lookout: Whether Congress acts on this issue or not, states and localities are busy enacting paid sick leave laws. Employers should remain vigilant for new activity in their jurisdiction.

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