Proposal to Give More Paid Leave to Some Federal Employees Moving Forward

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) says that more paid leave for federal employees is “an issue of fairness” in introducing the Senate version of the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act.

Federal employees who are hoping to get more paid leave this year when having a child may be starting to recalculate their income stream.

The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act was recently introduced in the House. (See More Paid Leave for Some Federal Employees? It Could Happen This Year) Its purpose is “To provide that 4 of the 12 weeks of parental leave made available to a Federal employee shall be paid leave….” The bill also says that the paid parental leave “shall not be considered to be annual or vacation leave…” but the leave does not accumulate for future use. A similar bill died without action in Congress last year.

A companion bill has now been introduced in the Senate as well (Senate Bill 354). It was introduced by Jim Webb (D-VA). The bill would be applicable to federal workers in all three branches who are already eligible for unpaid family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The text of the bill is not yet available. A document released by the Senator’s office says that the bill is necessary because “Under current law, federal employees who have a child and want paid time off have the option of using their accrued sick days and vacation time. This means that employees must save up their leave time in the years leading up to having a child. Asking employees to cobble together accrued leave makes it difficult for relatively new employees or those who experience health problems to save up enough time for parental leave.”

He also makes the argument that the bill should be passed because it “will improve recruitment and retention for federal agencies” and that 40 percent of the federal workforce is expected to retire over the next ten years.

If the bill is passed into law by Congress, it is estimated that it would cost about $850 million over the next five years. And, while many private sector employees (or unemployed Americans) would love to have the security of a federal job, politicians with large number of federal employees are jumping on the bandwagon with the argument that the bill is necessary to successfully recruit new federal employees.

For example, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) , who is a sponsor of the House legislation, echoes a similar refrain to Senator Webb with his comment that the bill is “critical both to employee morale and in competing with the private sector to attract and retain the strongest talent to the federal workforce.”

It is early in the year for Congress and impossible to predict the outcome of this legislation. But, for those federal employees who are hoping to keep getting paid without using sick or annual leave when having a child, the prospects for another month of income are promising.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47