Business group asks Congress for 'safe harbor' against state, local paid leave laws
- A business coalition has asked Congress for a “safe harbor” law as protection against various state and municipal paid leave policies, Bloomberg reports.
- The HR Policy Association is proposing that lawmakers pass legislation that sets an optional amount of paid leave, says Bloomberg. Employers that meet the threshold would then be exempt from local paid leave policies. The proposal was part of a much larger report about workplace trends and proposals for updating policies.
- The coalition represents 380 big companies, including Cigna, Proctor & Gamble, IBM, Marriott International, Oracle and Wendy’s.
If Congress grants the coalition “safe harbor,” businesses operating in multiple states and municipalities won’t have to deal with different paid leave policies or face penalties for noncompliance.
The timing couldn’t be better for the report, either, considering the pro-business stance of the GOP-led Congress. On the federal level, the debate over paid leave has largely stagnated. Though both sides concede that paid leave is a good thing, particularly for new parents, the question of who pays remains extremely contentious.
Most employees say employers should cover the costs, perhaps unsurprisingly. President Donald Trump has to tread carefully in this area to work around the popular support behind the issue. He's talked tough about cutting back on regulatory restraints on businesses in the past, but daughter Ivanka Trump's own support of paid leave has left him largely mute on the issue.
Businesses deny that the “safe harbor” request is a way of getting around state and local paid leave policies. They contend that complying with and administering different policies in different locations was burdensome for employers.
Labor groups will likely disagree. Their argument could be that some state and local paid leave laws apply only to government agencies and not the private sector. They also might argue that although a few high-profile companies have adopted generous paid leave policies, there’s been only slow movement in that direction across the board.