The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would give federal and congressional employees four weeks of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child, or taking in a foster child. Under the bill, OPM would have the discretion to grant an additional four weeks of paid leave.
The new paid leave package would be in addition to employees being able to use accrued vacation days as part of their parental leave. Also, the new bill would make it easier for a federal employee to use sick leave to care for a new child by eliminating the current requirement to demonstrate medical need when taking sick leave for this purpose.
FedSmith has published several articles on this topic recently and a number of employees have commented on the proposal. Some readers have voiced the opinion that the legislation is overdue and would put the federal government more in line with the socialist democracies of Europe which provide more generous benefits to employees than is generally done in this country. Others have argued that the proposal would enable the federal government to retain and attract more people to work for the federal government by offering a benefit that only a small percentage of private companies offer their employees.
Other readers have commented that the legislation is unnecessary to attract new employees, expensive, and would only benefit a relatively small number of current federal employees. Some argue that a disability insurance program would make more sense as it would potentially benefit all federal employees rather than a more limited paid parental leave program.
Of course, this is an election year and many elected officials want to gain as much support as possible and this bill will be popular with some voters while most of the costs will be deferred until after the election so it may be a bill that could gain votes without creating substantial opposition in local congressional elections.