Legislation has been introduced in the Senate that would give federal employees 12 weeks of paid leave for family support.
The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (S. 1174) was introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). It would give federal employees 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth of a new child, adoption of a child, or caring for a sick family member. It is a companion bill to legislation introduced in the House last month.
“It’s 2019. Everyone’s juggling work and family, but the policies haven’t changed with the times,” said Schatz. “Our bill will provide federal workers with 12 weeks of paid leave, making sure no federal employee has to make the impossible choice between caring for their family and keeping their job.”
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) currently allows employees to take 12 weeks of leave to deal with medical and family issues, but it does not provide any paid leave, something Congress has been hoping to change through legislation for the federal workforce.
A number of past efforts have been made in Congress to provide paid family leave to federal workers but to date none have been enacted.
Past efforts tried to provide 6 weeks of paid leave, but more recent ones have doubled in size up to 12 weeks. Given that these past attempts at guaranteeing 6 weeks of paid family leave failed, it’s not clear why lawmakers now think they can successfully pass legislation that doubles it to 12 weeks, but if nothing else, they can say they were there in support of federal employees with an election on the line next year.
One possible difference working in lawmakers’ favor currently: the Trump administration has said that it wants to see a national paid parental leave policy put in place. The White House’s latest budget blueprint again included a proposal for 6 weeks of paid parental leave, so a bill for paid family leave for federal workers might have the support of the White House if it were to gain the necessary votes to move through Congress.