As many readers of this blog are aware, a nationwide trend of localities requiring paid family leave has emerged over the last few years. While there has been little development on the federal front, this appears to be changing. On May 22, 2019, members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal tax policy and significant health care policy, announced a bipartisan working committee of Finance Committee senators to consider the issue of federal paid family leave policy.

The paid family leave working group plans to meet regularly and devise a list of principles on which all member senators reach agreement by consensus. Senate members will consider:

  • Existing paid family leave plans and any gaps in coverage;
  • Opportunities to make paid family leave more widely available;
  • The type of benefit, criteria for eligibility, wage replacement rate, protections for workers and other parameters of coverage;
  • Potential funding mechanisms and potential offsets; and
  • The possibility of reaching consensus on legislation in this area.

It remains to be seen whether this bipartisan group of senators will be able to reach consensus on a comprehensive national paid leave policy, as Republicans and Democrats differ on how best to establish such a program. At a minimum, creation of this working committee reflects a continuing trend of support for expansion of paid leave requirements.

While many retailers maintain paid leave policies, a national paid leave policy could require changes or enhancements to such policies. And, of course, retailers should continue to monitor local developments potentially requiring changes to their current leave policies and practices.