Opinion: New tax law may hold surprise for employers

Atlanta employers might be surprised to learn about one of the least publicized outcomes of tax reform. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), passed by Congress on December 20 and signed into law by President Trump, contains several obscure provisions that will directly impact employers and workplace law. One of the more far-reaching provisions is the paid leave credit.

This aspect of the new law offers businesses a tax credit if they offer up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to certain eligible workers. This law is the first federal law affecting private employers that addresses and encourages paid family leave. By way of background, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees of covered employers (in addition to job protection and benefits continuation).

Under this new provision, eligible employers must have a written policy that provides not less than two weeks of annual paid family and medical leave for full-time employees, and a pro-rata amount provided at the same ratio for part-time employees. The employer’s policy must provide payment at a rate not less than 50 percent of the wages normally paid to employees on leave.

Further, the leave must specifically state that the employer will not interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any paid leave right, and will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any individual for opposing any practice prohibited by the policy.

This new type of paid leave opens the door to more generous and expansive federal paid family leave laws into the future. Interestingly enough, a number of states have already been experimenting with various types of paid and unpaid leave laws.

In fact, the Georgia Legislature made its first foray into the family leave arena last year when it passed the so-called “kin-care law.” Ivanka Trump and others have been vocally outspoken in support of federal paid family and medical leave programs.

Time will whether these new laws are part of a greater trend across the country of more protections to come for the families of America.

However, this paid leave credit does have limitations. Among others, it only lasts two years before it has to be re-evaluated by Congress.

While the accountants and tax professionals study the tax aspects of the new tax law, human resources managers and labor and employment law professionals will need to get up to speed on these workplace law provisions and adjust their policies and procedures accordingly.

D. Albert Brannen is regional managing partner of Atlanta-based Fisher Phillips LLP, a firm that represents employers nationwide in labor, employment, civil rights, employee benefits, safety and health and business immigration matters.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Foes of renewable energy increase risk of climate catastrophe

Peter Thiel, Facebook investor and Donald Trump supporter, is by all accounts a terrible person. He did, however, come up with one classic line about the disappointments of modern technology: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” OK, now it’s 280, but who’s counting? The point of his quip was that while we&rsquo...
Opinion: ‘Little Pink House’ speaks truth to power

Coming soon to a cinema near you — you can make this happen; read on — is a bite-your-nails true-story thriller featuring heroes, villains and a history-making struggle over … the Constitution’s Takings Clause. Next Feb. 24, “Little Pink House” will win the Oscar for best picture if Hollywood’s political preening...

Left’s gender-neutral society will be weird I’m getting a glimpse of what a gender-neutral society is going to look like. Spurred on by leftist social scientists and a troop of useful idiots (of both sexes), that society is beginning to unfold. As I recently read an article, I came across the term “theybies.” It means babies...
Opinion: What happened in Starbucks isn’t really about Starbucks

I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t boycott Starbucks. But I wouldn’t if I could. Yes, I understand — and share — the national anger over viral video of last week’s arrest of two African-American men at one of the company’s Philadelphia stores. The men, who have yet to be identified, were reportedly doing nothing...
Opinion: Pricing carbon would honor Earth Day, protect Georgia

I recently had the opportunity to visit some of Haiti’s little-known fishing islands, where fishermen build dense communities on tiny islets located in good fishing waters. Unfortunately, these islands are in trouble: sea level rise and severe hurricanes are wiping them off the map; some of the islands have even been rebuilt with conch, dirt...
More Stories