Federal Paid Time Off and the Lead on Leave Tour
One of the more aggressive government initiatives in the employment sector since the Affordable Care Act received special attention this week locally - the executive branch’s push for federally mandated paid time off for workers. The following is a synopsis of what occurred.
THE LEAD ON LEAVE TOUR
Don’t panic! The federal government has not passed legislation mandating paid time off for eligible employees (yet). There is little political will to do so at the federal level, despite the reintroduction of the Family And Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) and the Healthy Families Act for the same reasons there is a lack of the same to move on minimum wage, which garners more attention nationally than paid time off and still faces monstrous opposition in Congress. Strategically and interestingly, the executive branch through the Department of Labor appears to be focusing much of its bully pulpit on lobbying for states and cities to pass legislation mandating paid time off for employees; perhaps recognizing the lack of traction on the issue with Congress. To this end, the Secretary of the DOL has taken to the road to promote state and federal legislation mandating paid time off for eligible employees.
The “Lead on Leave” road show arrived in Minnesota this week, just one week prior to the Rolling Stones concert in Minneapolis (coincidence?) to promote St. Paul’s recent offering of paid time off to city employees and state legislative initiatives that would have had traction had a bump not occurred in last November’s election derailing advocacy groups’ efforts to raise the minimum wage even higher in the state and enact mandatory paid time off. The Secretary’s tour began on April 1 in Seattle, rewarding the local government there politically for pushing forward a $15/hour minimum wage, and to promote a handful of businesses that have provided workers with greater than average benefits. On this trip to Minnesota, the Secretary highlighted St. Paul’s and Brooklyn Park’s offer of paid time off for city employees and advocated at the Minneapolis Technical College for the political will to make good on President Obama’s promise of free technical school education for eligible students.
Nationally, this issue is tied to the minimum wage movement and movement on women’s rights, both of which have received significant traction in the past two years mostly at the state and local level. Anticipate that mandatory paid time off is not far behind. To date, only California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have passed state-wide laws regarding paid time off, but there is energy behind this movement from advocacy groups, public policy medical institutions and even businesses have been pushing increasingly for policy changes.
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