A Problematic Start with Good Intentions

While many are against some of the cuts that President Trump introduced last week in his budget proposal, others are enthusiastic about the included paid parental  leave plan. Trump’s paid parental leave plan gained him supporters during his campaign. However, prior to his budget proposal last week, the plan remained a mystery. Even though Trump’s plan will aid millions who currently don’t have paid family leave, there’s still some pushback.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center,  only 14% of American civilian workers (i.e., all private industry and State and local government workers, but Federal Government, military and agricultural workers are excluded) have access to paid family leave.

Trump’s plan will provide new mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents six weeks of paid leave. This proposal is expected to be funded by each state’s unemployment insurance program. According to the budget, the plan is expected to cost approximately $18.5 billion over 10 years.


Currently, there’s ongoing debate about the proposed paid parental plan because it has a number of imperfections.

First, the plan doesn’t include paid leave to care for a sick family member or an employee’s own serious illness. Based on research done for the U.S. Department of Labor  in 2012, about 54% of all leaves are related to an employee’s own serious medical condition, not including birth or caring for a new child. In addition, 21% of all leaves are related to caring for an employee’s sick family member. These numbers outweigh the 18% of employees who take leave for birth or caring for a new child. Therefore, Trump’s paid parental leave plan excludes a large percentage of employees who need it.

Second, six weeks is not a long time. In fact, Dr. Julie Wray from the University of Salford, conducted a study and found that it takes women a year to recover from giving birth.

Next, there’s some speculation that Trump’s parental leave plan could bring forth sex discrimination.  The reason for this is that if employers have to provide paid parental leave, more employees will take advantage of this. Because of this, employers will perceive female employees as more expensive to employ. As a result, employers might be reluctant to hire or promote women. Although Trump’s policy is gender-neutral, based on stigmas and past practices, employers will expect more women than men to use it.

Lastly, Trump’s paid parental plan undermines the Family Act recently introduced to Congress in February 2017. If passed, the Family Act gives “[w]omen, men, and families 12 weeks of partially paid leave for (1) the birth or adoption of a child; (2) the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner; (3) one’s own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery; and (4) caregiving for members of the military.”


Although the paid family leave has a number of flaws, it is a start. The plan can be expanded by Democrats in the future. That being so, there is some silver lining to Trump’s plan.

Also, only a small percentage of employees currently receive paid family leave, and the plan is expected to benefit 1.3 million people.This is a huge step forward.

In the end, Trump’s paid parental leave is still in its early stages, and Congress has the final say on it. For now, there’s nothing to do but wait for its development.