As major employers in every state, Business Roundtable CEOs take seriously the responsibility of helping millions of employees address the demands of parenting, family and personal illness and other exigencies that may occur outside of work. The paid family and medical leave benefits that members’ companies offer are among the most generous found nationwide. Providing these benefits is core to Business Roundtable members’ commitment to serving the needs of employees and their families. For these reasons, Business Roundtable supports federal legislation to ensure paid family and medical leave benefits are available to as many working Americans as possible.
Currently, no uniform federal policy exists, and many states and localities have enacted, or are considering, their own paid family and medical leave laws with little commonality. Paid family and medical leave laws are active in eight states and the District of Columbia. These programs vary enormously in terms of the scope of coverage, beneficiaries, financing and procedural requirements. The growing number of different laws and their variability present a significant challenge for nationwide employers that already offer paid family and medical leave benefits.
As Congress and the Administration consider paid family and medical leave legislation, Business Roundtable urges policymakers to enact uniform standards and procedures that would apply nationwide and preempt overlapping state and local requirements. A single federal standard should apply to all covered employees. Further, Congress and the Administration should consider the following principles when drafting legislation and regulations:
- Adhere to the definitions, standards and procedures used in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This includes definitions of eligibility, justifications for leave-taking, and other administrative procedures governing how leave is managed and tracked. The FMLA provisions present a common set of standards that most employers understand and implement.
- Simplify procedures with respect to requirements for notification, applications for benefits, tracking and reporting to minimize the administrative burden on employers. Procedures should closely follow those required under the FMLA as mentioned above.
- Exempt companies from meeting federal administrative and financial requirements if they self-finance benefits (including through private insurance carriers) and substantially comply with any new federal standards on paid family and medical leave. In addition, as stated above, companies that substantially comply with any new federal standards should not be required to meet overlapping state or local requirements on paid family and medical leave.
- Finance wage replacement payments (for allowable paid family and medical leave) through fees collected on the salaries of eligible employees to help minimize the impact on small- and medium-sized businesses. Most current state paid family and medical leave laws take this approach. Fee levels should be set to reflect employee income and to minimize any negative economic effects on employees and businesses.
- Provide companies the option of paying fees on behalf of the employee should a federal law require companies to collect fees from employees to fund paid family and medical leave.
- Allow employers flexibility in administering benefits to different types of employees within the parameters of the legislation and provided all minimum requirements are met. This flexibility would include the use of different funding mechanisms to cover leave, providing more generous benefits, and/or using different 12-month periods and accrual methods based on employee type.