Build Back Better Act Update

By Jessica Frier posted 11-16-2021 08:49


By Jessica R. Frier, JD, Director, Employee Benefits Compliance, American Fidelity Corporation

Members of Congress are working to bring the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) to a vote, potentially by Thanksgiving. Next steps depend on if the House delivers the social spending bill to the Senate, what the bill includes, and how different the versions from each chamber of Congress are. It’s possible the BBBA could return to the House for an additional vote after significant changes by the Senate, be negotiated in a conference committee between the two chambers, or disappear altogether.

Here’s a look at what employers need to know now about this legislation.

What's happening with paid leave?
Initial versions of the bill contained a much-debated 12-week universal paid family and medical leave (PFML) provision. Ongoing negotiations between the House and Senate leadership first eliminated the paid leave provision and then saw it return as a limited four-week PFML program earlier this month.

How would it be paid for?
Many wonder how a PFML program, if enacted, would be paid for. Under the version included in the House Rules Committee Print 117-18 on November 3, 2021, the program would be funded by the federal government, meaning it would not require payroll taxes or contributions from employers and employees.

How can school districts prepare?
So, how can school districts and local educational agencies prepare? Start by examining current leave patterns and looking in depth at your employee demographics. Think about which employees are most likely to use federal paid family (e.g., parental, maternity, caregiving) or medical leave benefits and how such a federal program might impact existing leave programs in your district, including sick leave banks or other donation mechanisms.

Other considerations school business officials should keep in mind include how to track and report eligibility, monitoring the use of employees’ paid leave, coordination of existing benefits with a federal leave program, collective bargaining implications, and impacts on staffing, recruiting and retention.

Continue reading: PFML May Be Coming to Your State: What Employers Need to Know

BBBA: What's in and what's out?
In addition to paid family and medical leave, investments in education through universal pre-kindergarten, childcare, and workforce development programs are included, as are measures designed to address climate change. Below are highlights of the most recent proposal:

What’s In

  • Universal, free pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds
  • Subsidies for child and elder care
  • Expanded access to education beyond high school, including expanded access to Pell grants, sector-based training, and apprenticeships
  • Community college-based workforce development programs
  • Child and earned income tax credit expansions
  • Clean energy tax credits, technology, and procurement investments
  • Measures to address extreme weather, manufacturing, and supply chain technologies
  • Expansion of Affordable Care Act tax credits and changes to affordability calculation
  • Medicare drug pricing changes and coverage of hearing benefits under Medicare
  • Affordable housing, rental and down payment assistance, and public housing initiatives

What’s Out

  • Automatic enrollment of employees in employer-sponsored retirement plans
  • Expansion of Medicare to include dental and vision
  • Two years of free community college for all students

It’s important to note that until legislation is agreed upon and passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and signed by the President, all proposed legislation is subject to change or may fail to gain passage at all. While we wait to see what makes it into the final bill, the best thing you can do is to stay alert. We'll continue to monitor and communicate legislative changes to help you succeed in benefits management.

American Fidelity Assurance Company is a strategic partner of ASBO International and helps school business professional navigate complexities with benefits administration. To learn about PFML in your state and subscribe for updates, visit


This blog was last updated on November 11, 2021.