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Federal Programs

Federal Programs

The United States does not have a national paid family and medical leave policy, however, both Republican and Democratic leaders have agreed that these Paid Leave benefits are important to the American people. To encourage public adoption of these benefits, the federal government extended the tax credit for businesses that choose to offer paid FMLA programs. In addition, starting in October 2020, the federal government expanded Paid Leave benefits to Federal workers. More information on these programs are explained below.

Proposed Federal Programs

Both the Democrats and Republicans have proposed federal programs that offer paid family leaves. Democrats would like to see a program similar to Social Security with a shared employee and employer tax (i.e. Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act). Republican plans look to delay the start of Social Security retirement benefits by any time taken to bond with their children (i.e. New Parents Act). In 2019, a bipartisan group recommended a hybrid proposal that would allow new parents to accelerate a portion of their child tax credit for immediate pay following the birth of a child. In exchange, the credit would be reduced over the following decade (i.e. ‘Paid Family Leave’ bill). 

Even if a nationwide paid family and medical leave benefit is passed into law, it may not preempt state and local leave laws offering similar benefits. It may be similar to the federal unpaid FMLA law and the multiple states who have passed similar Family Leave Acts mandating job protections for employees who need leave. There is no doubt that Paid Family and Medical leaves will continue to be the topic of compliance conversations in the upcoming years.

As of January 1, 2021

Federal Programs in Force

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The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 extends this credit until December 31, 2020. Internal Revenue Code Section 45S provides a tax credit for employers who provide paid family and medical leave to their employees. Eligible employers may claim the credit, which is equal to a percentage of wages they pay to qualifying employees while they’re on family and medical leave. The credit generally is effective for wages paid in taxable years of the employer beginning after December 31, 2017. For more information, see Notice 2018-71 (PDF).

Paid family leave for child bonding was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020. FEPLA provides up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave in connection with the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child for employees covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions applicable to certain federal civilian employees. Benefits started October 1, 2020, and applies to leave taken in connection with a birth or placement of a new child. For more information regarding the Federal employees Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees see Bulletin #249. FY21.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and allows for the extension of their group health benefits to be maintained during the leave.

FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

  • For the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
  • For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Whether an employee has worked the minimum 1,250 hours of service is determined according to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) principles for determining compensable hours or work.


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Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Tax Credits View
Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) View
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) View

What is Paid Family & Medical Leave?

The information presented on this website is not legal advice and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice. It is not permissible for MetLife or its employees or agents to give legal advice. The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and does not purport to be complete or to cover every situation. You must consult with your own legal advisors to determine how the specific state’s Paid Family and Medical/Disability Leave law(s) will affect you.