Thursday, April 07, 2016

San Francisco passes paid parental leave; does it require a premium payment? What about non-parents?

San Francisco has approved a measure requiring businesses to offer at least six weeks of paid parental leave.  The latest story in the San Francisco Chronicle is here.

The state of California already has a plan for its workers, which it supports with a small insurance premium on all payrolls.  The news reports do not indicate that a premium will be charged in private business insurance.

Similar laws have been proposed in Washington DC, but would require payment of 1% of wage as a family leave insurance premium.

Progressive companies, especially high-tech, have generally offered even more generous benefits, largely out of self interest. Mark Zuckerberg made a spectacle over taking two months of paternal leave when his daughter was born (and his wife is a physician herself).

The issue is more sensitive in an exempt, salaried workplace than with hourly (or with contractors) because other employees often wind up taking over more workloads, especially being on-call, for free.

I strongly support the idea of a minimal payroll insurance premium deduction so that people are conscious of how this is paid for.  (Bernie Sanders talks about the benefit in the rest of the western world, but doesn’t say how to pay for it.)  The deduction could be mildly progressive and waived for the lowest income workers.  Actually, progressive health insurance premiums may be a good idea.

 When I worked for Univac in the early 1970s, Univac made the payroll deduction for the employee’s portion of the health insurance premium progressive based on salary.

It’s also important that fathers have access to the benefit as well as mothers (which they do in California.)  It would be possible to consider some benefit for eldercare as well, but that would require charging more premium. But an eldercare benefit would mean that non-parents would have a better chance to use the benefit, making it “fairer”.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Ferry Building, p.d., by “DaveOinSanFrancisco” 

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