Senator Deb Fischer's proposal to encourage companies to voluntarily provide two weeks of paid family leave has been adopted as part of the Senate's version of tax reform.

The Nebraska Republican's proposal aims to promote family leave but it relies on a tax credit as incentive for employers rather than coercion.  

Fischer originally made the proposals in the form of a piece of proposed legislation known as the Strong Families Act, which IWF praised in a letter of support to Senator Fischer (here).  

After the Senate Republicans incorporated her proposal into the tax plan, Senator Fischer told a Nebraska newspaper:

“For the four years I’ve been working on this plan, my goal has always been to balance the workplace challenges of employers with the needs of 21st-century working men and women. By encouraging flexible work arrangements, this proposal would allow workers to take leave on an hourly basis so they could care for a sick child or take an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment. It also would cover maternity and paternity leave for biological and adoptive parents.

"Importantly, the measure is also targeted to those who need it most: lower-to-middle income and hourly workers. The plan sets a limit on the salary-level eligible for the credit, which would expand access to paid family leave for workers who currently don’t have it."

In the April letter, the IWF outlined some of the pluses of Fisher's plan over the ones that have been proposed by Democrats and that could have a devastating impact on business that simply lack the resources to comply:

[Fischer's plan] would encourage employers to offer paid leave without imposing a government mandated paid leave program. Importantly, the bill creates a twenty-five percent, nonrefundable tax credit for employers of any size that voluntarily provide their employees with at least two weeks of paid leave per year. This is exactly what workers need: A proposal that will increase the amount of benefits businesses can afford, but without burdensome regulations that we know too often backfire on workers.

We've seen too often how rigid government mandates not only lead to reduced flexibility for women in the workplace, but can also increase the cost of employment and eliminate jobs, particularly for hourly workers with lower incomes.

This is a proposal that would benefit the workers who most need it but likely will not appeal to Democrats  who prefer a more coercive, one-size-fits-all mandate to anything with voluntary elements.