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Senate bill would create tax credit to encourage paid family leave

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A Republican and an Independent have introduced a Senate bill that would provide tax incentives for employers to offer paid parental and medical leave benefits for employees.

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Angus King (I-Maine) say the Strong Families Act (S. 2618) will encourage employers of any size to voluntarily offer paid leave.

While the FMLA offers unpaid parental and medical leave, many employees won’t consider taking time off because they can’t afford the hit to their incomes, Fischer said. “This hourly paid leave proposal provides families with the flexibility to take paid time to meet family medical and caregiving obligations,” she said.

The bill contains these provisions:

  • For each hour of paid leave provided, the employer would receive a 25% nonrefundable tax credit, up to $4,000 per year per qualified employee.
  • The tax credit would be available to any employer with qualified employees, regardless of size.
  • To be eligible for the tax credit, the employer must, at a minimum, offer four 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-timers would qualify for paid leave.
  • Employers would be prohibited from retaliating against employees who take advantage of paid leave benefits.

King said the bill would help members of the so-called Sandwich Generation. “Too often working parents are taking care of growing kids and aging parents and finding it nearly impossible to make ends meet,” said King.

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