The ink had not even dried on my blog post last week (calling federal paid leave a possibility) when a federal paid leave bill pending in the House was declared dead.

Fast forward to yesterday, when news outlets began reporting that federal paid leave may not be dead after all.

Catching every one of us off guard yesterday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inserted paid leave back into the House version of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” infrastructure package.

The problem for Speaker Pelosi? Her pitch for paid leave faces near certain rejection in the Senate, where one of her democratic colleagues, Sen. Joe Manchin, has joined Republican senators in refusing to provide the votes necessary to pass the bill in the upper chamber.

What Does the Latest House Version Include?

The Pelosi-backed House bill would provide the following paid leave benefits to nearly all American workers:

  • Four weeks of paid leave for reasons generally provided for under the current FMLA: 1) to bond with a newborn or a newly placed child; 2) to provide “caregiving” to oneself or to a family member due to a serious health condition.
  • Broad definition of the definition of “family members,” which now would include extended family such as siblings, grandparents, and the increasingly popular “any other individual who is related by blood or affinity and whose association with the individual is equivalent of a family relationship.”
  • Leave would be available to all employed and self-employed workers, and eligibility would be based on the receipt of extremely modest wages, so as to broaden the class of employees who could take leave.
  • The maximum benefit would be a bit more than $800/week, and would be calculated as follows: 90% pay for those earning less than $290/week; 73% for those earning less than $620/week; and 53% for those earning less than $1192/week.
  • Leave would be required in 4-hour increments and would include a one-week waiting (or elimination) period.
  • An employee-friendly notice period, which would allow employees to report the need for leave within seven days of taking leave.
  • Interestingly, if an employee misrepresented the need for leave or provided fraudulent information in an effort to obtain benefits, the employee would be banned from receiving benefits for 5 years.

Under the current version, the law would take effect in January 2024.

Access the latest version of the bill here (paid leave starts at page 1065).

So close. Yet, seemingly, so far away.