Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act
Many are surprised to learn that the federal government does not provide paid parental leave to its employees. As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government should be a leader in family friendly policies, but it has not kept pace with the changing American workforce. Most families today no longer have a stay-at-home parent to care for a new child, and even before the economic crisis few, could afford to go without pay for any length of time. Evidence shows that providing paid parental leave is good for children’s health and development, boosts employee morale and productivity, and saves costs for employers by reducing turnover. The evidence is clear – no one benefits when parents are forced to make the terrible choice between getting a paycheck and caring for their new child.
Currently, federal employees are only eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Many families are unable to take advantage of this benefit, because they simply cannot afford to go without pay for any length of time. Saving up enough sick and vacation days to receive pay during that time is difficult or even impossible many workers.
We need new policies that show that we don’t just talk about family values, but that we truly value families. Since 2000, I have introduced the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which would respond to the needs of tens of thousands of working families by providing federal employees with 4 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child during the 12 weeks of unpaid leave to which they are currently entitled. In the 112th Congress, I reintroduced the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2011 (H.R. 616) with my colleagues, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and 12 other House Members. H.R. 616 would provide four weeks of paid parental leave to federal employees for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. On June 4, 2009, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 626, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2009, by a bipartisan vote of 258-154.
The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, H.R. 616 (Full text here) is a critical piece of legislation which responds to the needs of working families whose needs are not being met under current policies. Among the reasons to support this bill:
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has stated that this legislation is PAYGO neutral, and that “enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or receipts.”
- Providing paid parental leave will save the federal government money by boosting employee morale and productivity, while reducing turnover.
- It helps the economy. New parents spend an average of $11,000 in added expenses in the year a child is born. By ensuring that new families’ incomes stay steady, paid leave insures that their consumption remains steady too, and this is what drives the economic growth we need right now.
- Supporting families by providing paid parental leave is a long-term investment in our future. Children whose parents are provided with paid leave are more likely to have regular checkups, receive immunizations, and engage in the parent-child bonding that is crucial to early childhood development.
06/01/09 - Comprehensive Information Packet on H.R. 626
06/01/09 - Explanation of PAYGO and H.R. 626
03/06/08 - Joint Economic Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee of Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia Hearing on “Investing in the Future of the Federal Workforce: Paid Parental Leave Improves Recruitment and Retention”