Obama’s Budget Proposes 1.6% Raise, 6 Weeks Paid Parental Leave for Federal Workforce

By on February 9, 2016 in Pay & Benefits with 90 Comments

Image of word 'salary' in letters on a chalkboard

The White House released the president’s budget proposal for 2017 today, and it contains some important proposals for federal employees.

Pay Raise for 2017

As previously reported, the budget requests a 1.6% pay raise for federal workers.

The portion of the budget that discusses pay for the federal workforce goes into a great amount of detail about pay differences between the federal workforce and private sector employees. On the one hand, it cites the President’s Pay Agent Report which says that federal workers are underpaid relative to the private sector by about 35%. On the other, it discusses a CBO report which shows that federal pay was, on average, slightly higher than private sector pay by about 2% and also noted that focusing on averages is misleading because the Federal/private sector differentials vary dramatically by education and complexity of job.

Bottom line: the White House recommends a 1.6% pay raise for 2017 for federal employees. The relevant document from the budget proposal is included below for those who wish to read the full write up regarding pay for the federal workforce.

Federal employee advocacy groups are having none of the proposed pay raise. AFGE is already on the record as wanting a 5.3% raise, and the National Treasury Employees Union said that the raise does little to narrow the gap between federal employees and the private sector. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) essentially agreed with NTEU, saying in a statement that it welcomes the raise but that it lags the average private sector pay increases.

NARFE president Richard G. Thissen said, “NARFE welcomes the 1.6 percent pay raise proposed by President Obama. For the first time in seven years, the increase follows the letter of the law. However, the proposed increase still lags behind the average increase in private-sector pay, which rose by 2.1 percent, according to the Employment Cost Index, calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

AFGE was much more caustic in its condemnation of the raise. The group’s national president, J. David Cox Sr., said federal employees are entitled to a much bigger raise next year. “We are sick and tired of pay freezes and pathetic penny ante raises. We’re not asking for any special treatment, just the pay increases we are owed after six years of low to no pay increases,” Cox said.

Paid Parental Leave

The budget proposal reiterates a push President Obama made last year to give federal workers 6 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child (see Details of Obama’s New Parental Leave Policy Announced and OPM Releases Guidance on President’s New Paid Parental Leave Policy).

Additionally, the proposal would allow parents to use sick days to care for a new child. The White House says the paid parental leave is necessary to improve recruitment and retention of federal employees as well as bring the government’s parental leave policies in line with benefit programs already provided by many companies.

The costs for providing the new leave policies would be covered within agency budget requests for salaries and expenses.

Bills have been introduced in Congress to give the federal workforce 6 weeks of paid parental leave with one of the latest introduced last September. None have passed so far, hence the renewed push in the budget.

Strengthening the Federal Workforce

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.


About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.