Paid Leave Will Stay in Tax Bill, Senator Predicts

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By Tyrone Richardson

A measure that would offer tax incentives for companies to provide paid leave for employees is predicted to remain intact as House and Senate lawmakers start negotiating a compromise to the tax reform bill this week.

The lawmakers are anticipated to be in conference as early as this week, ironing a compromise from their own versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( H.R. 1). That will include discussion about a measure by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) that will offer a tax credit for businesses that offer their workers paid family and medical leave. The amendment was mirrored after Fischer’s stand-alone legislation ( S. 344) that had been stalled.

Fischer’s spokeswoman Brianna Puccini Dec. 4 told Bloomberg Law that they “feel good about Senator Fischer’s paid family leave plan prevailing in conference.”

Her measure is just one of several floated this Congress. Paid leave has been a high-profile issue this year, elevated by President Donald Trump and White House aide Ivanka Trump asking Congress to find ways to consider paid leave for working families.

Fischer’s measure has fueled criticism from groups like the Labor Project for Working Families.

The coalition of unions has told Bloomberg Law that Fischer’s bill is unlikely to increase the number of employers offering the benefit because the tax credit only last two years before it has to be re-evaluated.

It was not immediately known Dec. 4 if House and Senate negotiators will adopt Fischer’s measure. Staffers for Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) did not immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

Measure Continues Paid Leave Discussions

The conference also comes as a House Education and the Workforce Committee panel Dec. 6 will hold a hearing on “Workplace Leave Policies: Opportunities and Challenges for Employers and Working Families.”

Numerous paid leave measures are being floated by lawmakers this Congress.

That includes Democrats’ FAMILY Act ( S.337, H.R. 947), which would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, funded by contributions from employers and workers.

Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) recently introduced the Workflex in the 21st Century Act ( H.R. 4219), which would exempt employers from state and local paid leave obligations if they give workers a certain amount of general paid leave that can be used for medical, family, bereavement, vacation, and other reasons.

The measure, which has two Republican co-sponsors, was drafted with help from employer advocates like the Society for Human Resource Management and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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