National Treasury Employees Union National President Anthony Reardon sent a letter to Office of Personnel Management Director Dale Cabaniss expressing concerns about how the agency plans to implement the new paid parental leave benefit for federal employees.
The NTEU letter cited several concerns stemming from OPM’s 2021 Congressional Budget Justification. Specifically, it cited the following three items:
Possible Limitations on the Use of Paid Parental Leave
OPM wrote in its budget justification:
Establish limitations on the use of paid parental leave in the case of foster care placements. (This change recognizes that, in some cases, foster care placements may be designed to be for temporary periods of less than 1 year, which undermines the justification for paid parental leave to allow for long-term bonding with a child.)
NTEU was quick to take exception to this and said it was “just wrong” regarding foster care placements. “Foster children of any age are at a precarious time in their lives and to suggest that paid parental leave isn’t necessary because they aren’t permanent additions to the family is outrageous,” wrote Reardon.
Limiting Paid Parental Leave to 12 Weeks Per Child (Not Per Employee)
NTEU wants each federal employee to have 12 weeks of time off, even in situations where both parents are federal employees eligible for the paid parental leave benefit.
Option to Draw from Best Leave Source
Reardon also said that “attempts to clarify the use of paid parental lave and unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act would limit a new parent’s ability to draw from the leave options that best suit their needs and personal situations.”
The letter goes on to say that NTEU is concerned that OPM is “thwarting legislative intent” in its implementation of the new paid parental leave law.
OPM’s Congressional Budget Justirication
OPM wrote in its 2021 Congressional Budget Justification in the section “Technical Corrections to the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act” that “paid parental leave may be used only after the birth or placement of a given child.”
It also agreed with some other lawmakers that the new law should apply to all federal employees even though some were excluded from the law as written.
About the Paid Parental Leave Law
The new paid parental leave benefit for federal employees was passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and will provide 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child to eligible federal employees. It is set to go into effect October 1, 2020.
Many federal employees have been asking questions about how it will work and if or how it would apply to their specific situations. The fact of the matter is that all of the details will not be known for certain until OPM issues regulations that put the law for federal agencies. OPM has said it is working on these and that they will be coming soon.