An Oklahoma Congressman says that the bill to provide paid parental leave for federal employees sends the wrong message. The bill will reportedly cost about $850 million over a five year period. But, if the Congressman’s contention about sending the wrong message is true, the House of Representatives isn’t too concerned.
By a vote of 258 to 154, the House of Representatives has passed the Paid Parental Leave Bill for the second time in two years. The bill did not pass in the Senate last year so it did not become a new law.
As we noted in a related article shortly before the vote on the bill, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) proposed an amendment to the bill that would have provided leave to federal employees only after they have used up all their accrued leave. Issa’s amendment also would require employees to have to repay any additional paid parental leave at a later time.
Issa noted a Bureau of Labor Statistics study that shows government benefits rose three times more than those in the private sector last year and that public employees are earning an average $13.38 per hour in benefits compared to $7.98 for private sector workers. He also noted that federal employees already receive five more paid vacation days per year than the average American worker.
A primary sponsor of the bill, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) did not address the cost factor but said after passage of the bill that "As more families are relying on just one paycheck in these times, we can’t afford not to help them in this way. The federal government should join the majority of the private sector– including 75 of the Fortune 100– by enacting workplace policies that invest in employees and their children."
She also noted that federal employees do not receive leave specifically for the birth of a new child. "If they (federal employees) have a new child and want paid time off, they have to cobble together accrued sick days and vacation time."
The purpose of the new bill is to provide more money for federal employees when having a child. The new bill states that its purpose is "To provide that 4 of the 12 weeks of parental leave made available to a Federal employee shall be paid leave…."
Moreover, the paid parental leave "shall not be considered to be annual or vacation leave…." The bill also provides that the leave does not accumulate for future use.
If the bill passes in the Senate, it already has the support of the Obama administration. The Office of Management and Budget wrote in a statement of administration policy: "The Federal government should reflect its commitment to these core values by helping Federal employees to care for their families as well as serve the public. Providing paid parental leave has been successfully employed by a number of private-sector employers, and can help to make job opportunities accessible to more workers."