Trumpdate: What’s in Ivanka’s “paid family leave” plan?

By Robin Shea, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP. To see more posts or to learn more about Robin, see Employment & Labor Insider.

President Trump’s address to Congress last night didn’t have much on labor and employment issues, apart from the creation of jobs (which is no small thing and would be awesome if it pans out).

Photo by SpookyPeanut source http://www.flickr.com/photos/spookypeanut/5502011850/

Ivanka Trump

But he did mention “paid family leave,” ever so briefly.

Credit (or blame) for the concept of paid family leave goes to the President’s daughter Ivanka, herself a businesswoman and mother of two young children. The plan is still a work in progress, but here is a broad outline as it currently stands:

Moms would be entitled to six weeks of paid maternity leave, which would be financed through state unemployment systems. There has been talk that restricting the leave to mothers is unconstitutional. As I’ve said before, I disagree, because new mothers are uniquely situated in the first six weeks after the birth of a child (in other words, they’re the only ones who have an actual physical disability), which I think would eliminate any equal protection concerns. In any event, it now appears that the concept may be expanded to include fathers and LGBT parents who did not give birth to the child. If they do that, I don’t see how they couldn’t expand it further to include all adoptive parents, so be on the lookout for that, too.

Families would be entitled to a tax deduction for child care expenses. As it stands now, the deduction would be available to parents with annual income of less than $250,000, and to couples with income of less than $500,000. The less-well-heeled would be entitled to an earned income tax credit for child care. Right now, there doesn’t appear to be anything for parents whose income is so low that they don’t pay taxes, and arguably they are the most in need of help with child care expenses.

According to some reports, some Democrats have indicated a willingness to work with Ms. Trump because they generally favor paid family and medical leave, and they see Ms. Trump’s proposal as giving them a foot in the door. For the same reason, resistance is expected to come from Republicans, and also because the plan as it currently stands is estimated to cost about $500 billion over the next ten years. Ouch!

Like I said, this is a work in progress. A lot is sure to change before a plan is formally presented to Congress. We’ll keep you posted.

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by Rich Girard.

About Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP has counseled employers on labor and employment law matters, exclusively, since 1946. A "Go To" Law Firm in Corporate Counsel and Fortune Magazine, it represents Fortune 500 corporations and small companies across the country. Its attorneys are consistently rated as top lawyers in their practice areas by sources such as Chambers USA, Martindale-Hubbell, and Top One Hundred Labor Attorneys in the United States, and the firm is top-ranked by the U.S. News & World Report/Best Lawyers Best Law Firms survey. More than 140 lawyers partner with clients to provide cost-effective legal services and sound preventive advice to enhance the employer-employee relationship. Offices are located in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.constangy.com.