Workers across the United States could soon be afforded certain privileges that could be life-changing in many cases. As part of President Joe Biden’s ‘American Families Plan,’ he is calling for a slew of social initiatives — billed as “an investment in our kids, our families, and our economic future” — that would include, among many other things, a national paid family leave plan and standardized paid sick leave policies.
On the heels of his ‘American Rescue Plan,’ the Families plan is designed to “do more” than its sister plan in terms of helping families.
“It is not enough to restore where we were prior to the pandemic,” a White House statement touting the plan reads. “We need to build a stronger economy that does not leave anyone behind – we need to build back better.”
What exactly is better?
In short, the plan would provide some $1.8 trillion in funding for education, federal nutrition programs, childcare, and extending tax credits. And to the rejoice of workers everywhere: paid family leave and paid sick leave.
From the White House’s brief on the ‘American Families Plan’, it details the following:
- The American Families Plan will provide direct support to families to ensure that low- and middle-income families spend no more than seven percent of their income on child care, and that the child care they access is of high-quality.
- It will also provide direct support to workers and families by creating a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program that will bring America in line with competitor nations that offer paid leave programs.
- The program will allow people to manage their health and the health of their families.
- It will provide critical nutrition assistance to families who need it most and expand access to healthy meals to our nation’s students – dramatically reducing childhood hunger.
Officials predict the proposal would help families having to pay for care for kids under five approximately $14,800 per year on child care expenses.
As for the “national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program,” some specifics from the plan include:
- The program will ensure workers receive partial wage replacement to take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, deal with a loved one’s military deployment, find safety from sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence, heal from their own serious illness, or take time to deal with the death of a loved one.
- It will guarantee twelve weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness/safe leave by year 10 of the program, and also ensure workers get three days of bereavement leave per year starting in year one.
- The program will provide workers up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced, rising to 80 percent for the lowest wage workers.
The paid leave proposal would be funded by taxpayers – not employers – and would cost about $225 billion over a 10-year period.
What’s more, as the pandemic highlighted the need for paid sick leave, Biden is touting the Healthy Families Act, which would require any employer with 15 or more employees to allow their workers to accrue up to 7 paid sick days a year.
The American Families Plan is still in the initial stages and will have to become a bill (or series of bills) before the ideas become reality, but sets the stage for the legislative process to begin.