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Colleges Ask for Tax Credit to Offset Paid Sick-Leave Mandate

June 2, 2020, 7:52 PM

Colleges face a huge unfunded mandate to offer paid sick and family leave unless Congress makes them eligible for a tax credit to cover the cost of the benefit, higher education lobbying groups are warning lawmakers..

Congress required employers to offer two weeks of paid sick leave and 10 weeks of partially paid Family and Medical Leave Act in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-127). But public colleges weren’t eligible for a refundable tax credit included in the law.

Statue outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium on the campus of the University of Alabama.
Photographer: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), which the House passed last month but the Senate hasn’t taken up, would expand the paid leave requirement to include large private employers with 500 or more employees. The legislation would expand the paid leave tax credit to public colleges, but not to private nonprofit colleges that would be affected by the mandate.

Public universities in Illinois estimate the paid leave mandate will cost about $195 million. And the University of Florida will face costs of more than $35 million, according to a letter to Senate leaders from the American Council on Education.

“Considering that there several thousand public institutions and private nonprofit colleges and universities with at least 500 employees in the United States, it is easy to see the enormous financial impact of this mandate,” Ted Mitchell, ACE’s president, wrote Tuesday in a letter signed by more than 40 college groups.

The Senate should expand the paid leave tax credit to both public and private nonprofit colleges, Mitchell said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Kreighbaum in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at; Robin Meszoly at

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