Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) are introducing companion legislation to go with a recent House bill that would give federal employees six weeks of paid parental leave the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.
Although the Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to tend to medical and family issues, it does not provide any paid parental leave. The Senators believe that their bill would help attract more people to the federal workforce and also improve retention of women in federal positions.
President Obama released a memo earlier this year directing federal agencies to offer their employees 240 hours of advanced sick leave at the request of an employee and under “appropriate circumstances.” The new push coming from Congress to expand parental leave for federal workers is no doubt a part of the directive coming from the White House.
Speaking on the legislation, Schatz stated, “While private companies are beginning to see the benefits of providing paid family leave, America is still the only industrial nation in the world without a program that gives working parents the time off and income they need to care for a new child. Our legislation will provide federal workers with six weeks of paid leave, making sure no federal employee has to make the impossible choice between caring for a newborn child and putting dinner on the table.”
Federal employee unions and advocacy groups came out strongly in favor of the proposal.
Richard G. Thissen, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) said, “It’s long past time for the federal government to offer this benefit, particularly as more and more private-sector companies are learning that in doing so, they improve both employee morale and retention of good employees. I thank Sen. Schatz for his leadership on this issue and NARFE urges Congress to support federal employees by affording them paid parental leave.”
The Paid Parental Leave Act was last introduced in 2013 at which time it only provided for four weeks of paid leave. It ultimately failed to advance.
With the president behind the idea this time, will it fare better in the new Congress? We will keep our readers updated of any new information as it becomes available.