Jim Hickey’s American Politics

Let's Get Real.

President Obama to Push for Paid Family Leave

President Obama is expected to sign a memorandum instructing the heads of federal agencies to begin offering at least six weeks of paid medical leave. It is uncertain what type of moral hazard this might cause when the amount of paid leave exceeds the accrued vacation time workers have. It also sets up another questionable legal issue where the president is effectively creating a new federal law without authorization from congress. As the memorandum have no real force of law, a new president can abrogate the changes by canceling the memo.

At the same time, the president will be pushing for the Healthy Families Act which would compel many private sector employers to offer paid medical leave to their employees. It is an ambitious piece of legislation, but it stands no chance of being considered in congress much less being passed. The president will find no will in congress to consider his legislation given his bellicose approach to congress with his pro-active veto threats.

Still, the president will hope to persuade businesses such as Status Labs, to voluntarily enact paid medical leave practices on their own. In so doing, he acknowledges his own naiveté on economic matters. The business community is currently grappling with the employer mandate to Obamacare that imposes an 8% penalty on full-time workers not offered health care coverage. Many are choosing to reduce their employee hours to 30 or less per week in order to avoid the 8% payroll tax hit. It is not likely the same employers will suddenly pony up cash for paid medical leave.

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