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Dueling Family Leave Policies

by Countable | 2.9.18

What’s the story?

Senators from both sides of the aisle are backing separate paid family leave proposals.

Independent Women’s Forum

The plan outlined by IWF would "offer new parents the opportunity to collect early Social Security benefits after the arrival of their child in exchange for their agreeing to defer the collection of their Social Security retirement benefits."

As the Washington Post explained, "The IWF estimates the plan would replace 45 percent of the average parent's income for a period of up to 12 weeks. In exchange, that parent would have to defer retirement by roughly six weeks to offset the cost."

According to the IWF, the average wage worker would receive $1,175 per month.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said a proposal like IWF’s "would not only represent conservatism meeting the challenges of the 21st century, it would remain true to Social Security's fundamental principle of providing assistance to dependents in our care."

But Democratic Sen. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut criticized the IWF plan:

"Workers should not have to permanently cut their Social Security retirement benefits in order to spend time with a newborn child, and any paid leave plan that reflects the needs of working people and families must address the need to deal with a personal or family member’s serious illness."

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) proposed a bill that calls for a 0.2 percent employee payroll tax and a 0.2 percent employer tax that would fund up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. The FAMILY Act would pay 66 percent of monthly wages.

The National Partnership for Women and Families, which supports the FAMILY Act, estimates the average workers would pay less than $1.50 per week in new taxes.

Third Way

Both proposals are still far behind the international standard set by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

As the Post explained, "While both plans are an improvement over current law, which mandates no paid maternity leave, either one would still leave the United States a stingy outlier among the world's wealthy nations when it comes to paid family leave."

The ILO recommends 14 weeks of family leave at an income replacement rate of at least 66 percent. But "nearly all countries in the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] offer considerably more than that," the Post noted. “Eastern European countries offer the equivalent of a year or more at full pay, while the Nordic democracies offer six months or more.”

What do you think?

Do you support the IWF or FAMILY paid family leave proposals? Or would you like something closer to Eastern European or Nordic democracies? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages / iStock)

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