Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and first daughter Ivanka Trump have teamed up to develop a paid parental leave program in the United States. While the plan is in its infancy, Senator Rubio reportedly envisions a plan similar to a proposal from the Independent Women’s Forum, calling for a parental leave program funded by new parents’ future Social Security benefits. Under that proposal, parents could receive up to 12 weeks of benefits to take paid leave at any time in the first year of their new child’s life in exchange for what the Independent Women’s Forum hopes would be six weeks of Social Security benefits in the future.
The Rubio-Ivanka proposal is not without criticism. Some conservative commentators say the plan would unfairly burden Social Security’s limited resources. Further, because the Rubio-Ivanka plan would be available regardless of the size of a new parent’s employer, the leave would not be protected under the FMLA if the parent’s employer does not have 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius. Liberal critics believe that the proposal will negatively affect women, who generally receive less Social Security benefits than men for reasons of gender-related pay inequity.
While paid family leave is a concept with bipartisan support, proponents disagree about how to fund such a program. The president’s recent budget plan, which calls for six weeks of family leave paid for by unemployment insurance, appears to be at odds with the Ivanka-Rubio idea. The Democrat-sponsored Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (the FAMILY Act) would provide up to 12 weeks of income through a payroll tax on employers and employees. Employers should continue to monitor discussions and developments in this rapidly changing area.