- Employees want paid time off (PTO) to care for ill family members, and many employers want to offer it, but the cost is still too steep for most small companies, reports the Associated Press. But now, 25 years after the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) went into effect, a growing movement has emerged to get small businesses to offer paid leave for caregivers.
- PTO for caregivers is different from paid parental leave, which allows time off for childcare after birth or adoption, notes the AP. Large employers are more likely to offer paid parental leave. Provisions for caregivers' paid leave is more aligned with the FMLA, which allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible workers who need time off to care for themselves or a family member, or for the birth or adoption of a child. Employees generally are guaranteed their jobs when they return to work.
- Advocates for caregiver PTO are trying to get more states to adopt the benefit, according to the AP. Only four states currently mandate PTO for caregivers: New York, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island have employee and/or employer-funded insurance pools to partially replace workers’ wages. Requirements in Washington state and Washington, D.C., take effect in 2020.
Caregiver PTO can be a valuable benefit to employees, especially in the tight labor market. It means not having to choose between caregiving duties and a job. And for employers, it means workers won't try to do both at once, which often results in a distracted and unproductive employee.
States and even some cities are taking up the banner of providing benefits, raising minimum wages and banning salary history questions while the federal government focuses on deregulation. This movement, however, has created a patchwork of laws that employers find increasingly difficult to contend with.
Some caregiver PTO benefits call for a combination of full- and half-day compensation. This might be a viable compromise for some small companies. Affordability of benefits for small businesses has recently been brought to the fore by Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in a meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.