Trump’s Paid Leave Plan: Pitting the Unemployed Against Working Families

The vast majority of Americans lack access to paid family and medical leave. In recent years, a few states — California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York (whose program will begin in 2018) — have created their own paid family leave programs to complement existing medical leave (temporary disability) programs. The District of Columbia also recently enacted a paid family and medical leave program scheduled to begin in 2019. But in all other 46 states, there is no public program, and most American workers do not have access to paid family or medical leave through their employer.1 In May 2017, the Trump Administration put forward a proposal in its budget request to provide six weeks of paid parental leave through the unemployment insurance system, starting in 2020. 2 This report analyzes the Trump proposal and its shortcomings. We find that the proposal:

 Omits many valuable types of caregiving and medical leave;

 Fails to provide dedicated federal funding, instead imposing an unfunded mandate on states to finance paid leave out of their unemployment insurance trust funds, which would likely harm unemployed workers in many states; and

 Would likely provide low benefit levels, posing particular challenges for lower-wage workers.

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