Priority for Paid Leave

Nov 9, 2023

Paid leave continues to be a priority topic for the U.S. Congress.  

The Senate Finance Committee recently held a hearing “Exploring Paid Leave: Policy, Practice, and Impact on the Workforce.” And the bipartisan House Paid Family Leave Working Group has begun working on a legislative package after concluding its six-part briefing series with policy and business experts.

During its briefing session earlier this year with the House group, ACLI shared how life insurers provide family leave benefits to millions of American workers. In a statement for the record for the recent Senate Finance Committee hearing, we reiterated the need to expand access to family leave protection in a way that is well managed and paid for.

The most efficient and cost-effective way would be through a public-private partnership that builds on the experience life insurers have with paid leave. More than 47 percent of full-time civilian workers – nearly 62 million Americans – receive paid medical leave benefits through the private sector. Life insurers and employers paid out $9.5 billion in paid leave benefits in 2021.

Disability income insurance is already providing billions of dollars in paid leave benefits from private insurers to millions of Americans when they need to take leave from work. Private insurers have the tools and know-how to cover more workers and families through employer-based plans.

Building on the private system would be a “win-win-win” as it would allow insurers, employers, and government to reach more workers quickly, fairly, and cost-effectively than a government-run plan devised from scratch. Private insurers will utilize our expertise to handle paid leave cases so employers and their employees get the support and care they need. The government can establish guidelines, deliver employer incentives, and support workers who do not have access through their jobs.

ACLI is heartened to see the continued focus on bipartisan policy conversations about paid leave. We look forward to further collaboration with stakeholders and legislators to expand this important coverage that bolsters America’s families and its workforce.

Lauryl Jackson

Lauryl Jackson is Vice President, Federal Relations for Financial Income Security and Diversity & Inclusion for the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Prior to joining ACLI in January 2020, she led government affairs strategy for the priorities of the pharmaceutical industry.