An Idea for Paid Family Leave That Just Might Work

The collapse of Build Back Better has opened up more space for Republicans to innovate on paid leave, and a new idea is taking shape that could garner bipartisan support.

Here’s the nut of it: Provide parents a flat, lump sum benefit upon the birth or adoption of a child. Pair this benefit with a limited expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act, specific to birth and for a more limited amount of time but for which nearly every worker would be eligible (relative to the 40 percent of workers excluded from FMLA protections today). 

This proposal builds on the bipartisan energy around a child tax credit (CTC) expansion for young children, renewed Democratic energy around modernizing FMLA, and Republican energy around keeping business interruption and fiscal burden to a minimum while solidifying pro-life, pro-family bona fides. 

Importantly, it would guarantee a baseline level of support and protection for all American infants, without their parents experiencing unnecessary financial or employment-related stress. In doing so, it could be the most inclusive paid parental leave idea on the table thus far.

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