Republican Senator Reintroduces Equal Pay and Paid Leave Proposals

February 10, 2017

This week, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) reintroduced two bills to increase pay transparency and create tax credits to encourage employers to provide paid family and medical leave.  The Workplace Advancement Act, which Senator Fischer introduced with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), would amend the Equal Pay Act to prohibit employers from retaliating against an employee for inquiring about or disclosing the wages of the employee or another employee as long as the employee does not have access to the wage information of other employees as part of the employee's essential job functions.  The Strong Families Act, which Sen. Fischer reintroduced with Sen. Angus King (I-ME), would create a tax credit for employers of any size who voluntarily offer paid leave.  The legislation includes no new mandates.  Under the bill:

  • For each hour of paid leave provided, the employer would receive a 25 percent non-refundable tax credit;
  • To be eligible for the tax credit, an employer must offer at least four weeks of paid leave;
  • The paid leave would be available on an hourly basis and would be separate from other vacation or sick leave;
  • Part-time employees would qualify for the paid leave; and
  • Employers would be prohibited from retaliating against employees who participate in the program.
According to Sen. Fischer, "I'm reintroducing these proposals today to empower Americans to effectively negotiate wages and provide flexibility for the many families juggling responsibilities at home and at work.  These ideas have bipartisan support in Congress.  The White House has expressed strong interest in making progress on them."  Gender pay equity and paid leave issues will be discussed in greater detail at the March CHRO Summit.