Paid Leave Measures Introduced by Senate Democrats, Republicans

March 15, 2019

The paid leave discussion has begun again in earnest in Washington as Democrats reintroduced a paid sick leave bill, Republicans floated a measure that would draw from Social Security to provide paid leave benefits to new parents, and President Trump included in his 2020 budget the general contours of a paid leave benefit for new parents.

Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mike Lee’s (R-UT) CRADLE Act would grant a new parent the ability to take a consecutive time period not exceeding three months and beginning within 90 days of the birth or adoption of the child. The pair are testing draft language and seeking input. 

  • Under the measure an eligible parent would receive payment determined by Social Security’s primary insurance amount, minus what they would receive from their employer or from state or local programs.

  • The benefit would be an opt-in for new parents. 

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) Healthy Families Act would mandate that employees may earn one hour of earned paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. 

  • Employees would be able to use the time: 
    • When they are ill;
    • To care for a sick family member;
    • To obtain preventive care; or 
    • To address the impacts of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

  • Employers would not be required to permit an employee to earn more than 56 hours of paid sick time in a year.

As promised in his 2019 State of the Union address, President Trump’s budget for the Department of Labor includes a proposal to provide six weeks of paid parental leave to new parents, including adoptive parents, using the state-based Unemployment Insurance system.  Beyond this, “[t]he Administration looks forward to working with Congress to advance policies that would make paid parental leave a reality for families across the Nation.”

None of the proposals provide any form of relief from the patchwork of state and local paid sick leave laws.

Why it matters:  While it's unclear to be seen whether any one of these measures can gain momentum in Congress, the issue of paid family leave is becoming a bipartisan priority in Washington.