Backgrounder

PAID Leave Act

Tags:

Democrat bill, Sick Leave

Bill name: Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave (PAID) Act
Bill sponsors: (S. 3513), sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Summary: The PAID Leave Act creates several mandates on employers, both during an emergency medical situation and ongoing mandates at all other times.

Non-emergency Mandates:

The Act requires employers provide all eligible employees the opportunity to accrue 56 hours (seven work days)of paid sick leave, it creates a new federal Family and Medical Leave Insurance Benefit, and replaces the paid leave portions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) with new paid leave requirements applicable to all workers.

Accrued Paid Leave

This section forces employers to provide all employees with up to 56 hours (7 work days) of paid sick leave, unless the employer chooses to set a higher limit, to be paid at the individual’s regular rate of pay. This leave would be awarded at one hour for every 30 hours worked by the employee.

Leave may be used by the employee for the following reasons:

  • an absence relating to illness, injury, or medical needs,
  • closure of the workplace due to a public health emergency,
  • quarantine or isolation of the individual during a public health emergency,
  • caring for a family member’s medical needs or closure of their school or care facility, or
  • situations resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Both the paid sick leave and emergency paid leave must be provided upon the oral or written request of the employee, with the expected duration of the period of leave and with at least seven days advance notice when the need for leave is foreseeable. Employers may request a certification issued by a health care provider if the period of leave covers more than three consecutive workdays, unless a public health emergency has been declared. For leave due to situations related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, an employee may provide documentation such as a police report, court order, or a signed statement from a victim services organization or others.

The Family and Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA) requirements of restoration of position and maintenance of health benefits would apply to the individual taking accrued leave, additional paid sick leave, or emergency paid leave.

The PAID Leave Act would also permanently enact the FAMILY Act (H.R. 1185/S. 463) to create a national Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave, housed within the Social Security Administration, and a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Benefit program. All workers would be eligible for up to three months of family and medical leave insurance benefits to care for their own serious health condition, care for a family member with a serious health condition, care for a newborn, or for the foreign deployment of a family member in the armed forces.

Individuals who earned a wage in the preceding 12 months would be eligible for three months of benefits equal to two-thirds of their highest earnings over the preceding three years, capped at no more than $4,000 per month and no lower than $580 per month. These amounts would increase annually, indexed to wage growth.

The program would be paid for by a 0.4 percent payroll tax applied to all earnings subject to the Social Security tax. Half of that new tax, 0.2 percent, would be paid by the employer and the other half paid by the employee. Self-employed individuals would pay the full amount.  A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) review of the bill found that the costs of the program would exceed the new payroll tax receipts and be insufficient to cover the costs of the program in a 10-year window. Specifically, CBO scored the FAMILY Act as increasing direct spending by $547 billion over 10 years, increase taxes by $319 billion over 10 years, and increase the federal deficit by $228 billion over 10 years. Further, CBO estimates the FAMILY Act would increase the Social Security Administration’s administrative costs by $27 billion.

Emergency Only Provisions:

During a public health emergency, all employees would be given 14 days of additional paid sick leave, without a reduction in pay.  Part-time and hourly workers would be given paid sick leave equal to the number of hours the individual was scheduled to work or regularly works in a 14-day period.  For employees with varied schedules, the employer shall use a number equal to the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled per day over the six-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes such leave, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type. If the employee did not work over such period, the employer shall use the reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring of the average number of hours per day that the employee would normally be scheduled to work. Emergency paid leave may be used intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule.

All employees would also receive 12 weeks of emergency paid leave during a public health emergency, paid at a rate that is not less than the greater of two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay or the applicable minimum wage. That leave may be used for the employee’s medical needs or caring for a family member and can be used on the schedule that meets the needs of the individual, including used intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule. Employers may not require the employee to search for or find a replacement worker to cover the hours of leave.

This section also requires the federal government to reimburse employers within seven days for their expenditures on additional paid sick leave and emergency paid leave during a public health emergency. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, requires the federal government reimburse employers quarterly.

Click here to read the bill language. 

Click here to download the PAID Leave Act backgrounder. 

Click here for more info on Coronavirus bills. 

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Additional Resources

Press Release: PAID Leave Act: Murray, DeLauro, Gillibrand to Introduce Updated Emergency Paid Leave 
March 17, 2020, Help.Senate.gov
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
https://www.help.senate.gov/ranking/newsroom/press/paid-leave-act-murray-delauro-gillibrand-to-introduce-updated-emergency-paid-leave-small-business-support-bill-in-response-to-worsening-coronavirus-crisis  

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