House Democrats introduce Federal Employee Paid Parental Leave Act to provide 6 weeks of paid leave

Jan 26, 2015
Press Release
Members tout economic benefits amid White House push for stronger leave policies

WASHINGTONHouse Democrats today introduced the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (FEPPLA) legislation that would provide six weeks of paid leave to federal employees for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. President Obama recently backed the legislation in his push for changes to leave policy – a message that was also highlighted in the State of the Union Address. The lead sponsor of the legislation, Joint Economic Committee Ranking Democrat Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), joined Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) in calling for passage of the legislation. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) are also original cosponsors of the bill. The Joint Economic Committee Democratic staff recently produced a fact sheet on the economic benefits of paid parental leave policies that is available here.

“You can count on one hand the number of countries that don’t provide paid leave for the birth of a child, and the United States is part of the club,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY). “I remember being a young mother and asking about the leave policy when I became pregnant. I was told what leave? You just leave! It is outrageous that decades later we still don’t have the same basic right that most of the rest of the world enjoys. This is not only wrong; it’s bad for our economy. Smart paid leave policies improve employee retention, boost productivity and more. The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act won’t require additional spending, but it will make a difference in the lives of millions of federal employees – including 61,000 New Yorkers - who should not have to choose between a paycheck and the most important task a human being can take on: raising a child.”

“I'm proud to cosponsor the Federal Employee Paid Parental Leave Act, which will prevent our federal employees from having to choose between caring for their families and keeping their jobs, including tens of thousands of federal employees who I represent in Maryland's Fifth District," said Congressman Hoyer (D-MD). "Paid parental leave is also important to ensuring that the federal government can attract and retain top talent to serve the American people, as well as setting an example for private sector businesses. I urge the House to consider this legislation without delay so we can begin to expand child care and family leave access to more workers throughout our economy.”

“Like the majority of Fortune 500 companies, I have found that granting congressional employees paid parental leave not only retains valued employees, but also saves the inefficiency and cost of turnover, which according to studies, costs more than parental leave,” Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said. “There is no cost reason and many other good reasons that benefit children and families that would allow at least the federal workforce to begin to catch up with the rest of the world on paid family leave.”

Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce said: “As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government should be a leader in making workplaces more family friendly. The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act institutes common-sense, paid leave policies that reflect the current realities of our labor force. The United States is the only developed nation that does not require paid parental leave, while our European counterparts, for example, continue to adopt policies that support working families. Paid leave has been a key factor in women participating in the workforce, and in the last decade and a half, the rates of working women have been rising in other countries, but have fallen from a high of 74 percent to 69 percent in the U.S. today. Congress must answer the President’s call to end the ‘tug of war’ people feel between work and home, and create real, lasting security for the middle class through family-friendly workplace policies.”

“The federal government needs to take the lead in providing family friendly working environments for new parents. We shouldn’t be forcing parents to choose between their job and a newborn, especially at a time when federal workforce recruitment is so critical,” said Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA).  “Nearly a third of our federal workers will retire in the next few years.  At a time when most Fortune 500 employees already enjoy paid parental leave, federal civil service needs to be more attractive to the next generation, not less.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), an original cosponsor of the legislation, said “The federal government should be a leader in family-friendly workplace policies. If we are going to expect private companies to provide paid family leave, which they should, the federal government needs to do the same. Companies with paid family leave are more family-friendly, productive and efficient. Being a working parent should not mean choosing between your job and taking care of yourself or your family.”

“I am proud to join Congresswoman Maloney in continuing our fight on behalf of our nation’s dedicated civil servants to finally pass legislation to renew America's commitment to help working families meet the demands of parenthood in the 21st Century economy," said Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA). "As President Obama’s recent executive action recognized, it is time to provide our federal workforce with modern paid parental leave benefits. Leading businesses have long recognized that good parental leave policies for employees strengthen families and enhance recruitment and retention of a talented workforce.”    

“As working families continue to feel the middle class squeeze despite an improving economy, providing paid parental leave is one way to ensure economic stability for those who make a living through hard work,” said Congressman Van Hollen (D-MD). “Not only would this legislation benefit families, it would help the federal government attract and retain the best and brightest workers to serve the public."

The legislation differs from the executive memorandum signed by the President on January 15, which permits all federal employees to receive an advance of sick and annual leave to be used for leave connected with the birth or adoption of a child or for other sick leave eligible uses. FEPPLA would amend the law to allow federal employees to be paid during their approved Family and Medical Leave Act leave. This time would not count against sick or annual leave.

By failing to provide paid parental leave, the federal government lags behind both the private sector, as 53 percent of private-sector employers provide some form of paid parental leave, as do most industrialized nations around the world.

A separate version of FEPPLA passed the House in the 111th Congress with bipartisan support by a vote of 258-154. In 2009, the FEPPLA bill was determined by the Congressional Budget Office to have no “PAYGO” implications. The legislation does not require a pay-for.

The legislation also applies to all employees of the House and Senate (including Members’ personal offices and Committee Staff), Capitol Guide Service, Capitol Police, Congressional Budget Office, Office of the Architect of the Capitol, Office of the Attending Physician, Office of Compliance, the Office of Technology Assessment, Library of Congress, and the Government Accountability Office.

Several organizations have endorsed the bill including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), Federally Employed Women (FEW),The National Partnership for Women & Families, National Council of Jewish Women, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), A Better Balance, Family Values @ Work, 9to5, National Association of Working Women, 9to5 Atlanta, 9to5 California, 9to5 Colorado, 9to5 Wisconsin, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), WA State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

“The federal government already reimburses its contractors for the cost of paid parental leave. It’s time for government to extend these benefits to its own employees and serve as a model that all employers should follow,” AFGE President J. David Cox. Sr said.

“NTEU strongly supports the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (FEPPLA) which would provide six weeks of paid leave to federal employees for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. It is time for the federal government to make family leave a real benefit for federal employees, and not a mirage they cannot afford to use. This bill will go a long way towards creating a more family-friendly workplace, which is needed by America’s workers,” said NTEU National President Colleen M. Kelley.

“In addition to reducing turnover, paid parental leave can lead to increased productivity, better morale, and reduced absenteeism.” “More and more private employers around the world are offering parents paid time off so they can take care of their newborns. As a result, federal agencies can't compete with the private sector for talented younger workers who, if electing federal employment, would have to use accrued vacation or sick time, which may be only a few days, or forgo pay in order to take time off after the birth of a child. This is a large problem for federal agencies facing a substantial retirement wave. With more than 30 percent of the federal workforce eligible to retire in the next three years, the federal government must offer comparable benefits to compete with the private sector for top talent,” said NARFE President Richard G. Thissen.