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February 09, 2017

King, Fischer Renew Push for Paid Family & Medical Leave

Strong Families Act would provide tax incentives to employers who provide paid family or medical leave

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today announced that he has joined Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) to reintroduce legislation that would offer employers incentives to voluntarily provide paid family or medical leave to their employees. The legislation – the Strong Families Act – comes after President Trump has expressed a desire to extend paid leave benefits to more families across the country.

            “Our country’s outdated family leave policies have left working parents struggling to balance the needs of their families with the needs of their jobs – and that not only holds back families, but it also holds back our economy,” Senator King said. “By giving Maine families and those across the country more flexibility, this legislation would make it easier for parents to make a living and allow them to take care of their families at the same time. That’s a recipe for success for American households and for our workforce. With President Trump interested in advancing paid family leave, I hope this legislation will serve as an important blueprint for how we can move forward on a bipartisan basis.”

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 for qualified medical and family reasons. To qualify for FMLA, a worker must have worked for that employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours within the last 12 months. This leave can be used for events like the birth or adoption of children, attending to 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 King-Fischer 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 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 provides, 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.

Senators King and Fischer have introduced similar legislation in previous Congresses. To view text of the Strong Families Act, click HERE.

Senator King has also partnered with Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to introduce legislation that would make childcare more affordable for families across the country. The PACE Act would update the federal government’s childcare-related tax credits to make them more useful to American families at a time when the costs of childcare remain prohibitively high.


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