House members push for parental leave for Federal employees
WASHINGTON, DC – In the 18th Anniversary month of passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Gerald Connolly (D-VA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) today introduced the “Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act” (FEPPLA), H.R. 616, legislation that would provide all federal employees with four weeks of paid parental leave. Federal employees currently must deplete their annual and sick time to take parental leave.
“Unlike the majority of large private-sector employers, Federal employees currently receive no paid family leave at all. Yet raising a child is the most important task in our society,” said Rep. Maloney. “Families shouldn’t have to choose between a paycheck and getting their newborn home and settled in, especially in these economic times. With FEPPLA, the Federal government can make ‘family-friendly’ more than a buzzword and ensure that both newborns and the government benefit—especially as government needs to attract new workers to replace retiring baby boomers.”
“To recruit and retain the next generation of civil servants the federal government must have personnel policies that are competitive with the private sector,” said Rep. Connolly. “As the baby boomer generation of federal workers retire in great numbers over the next decade, we need to provide incoming federal employees with sensible options that make federal service competitive with the private sector.”
“Currently, the Federal government does not provide their employees with paid parental leave – this bill would correct that,” stated Congressman Hoyer. “With FEPPLA, the Federal government has the opportunity to set a valuable and lasting example for a responsible leave policy. It is time for America to catch up with the rest of the world on this issue and realize that a right to paid leave is more than a family matter – it is a public good that means healthier families, more productive children, and a stronger economy for all of us.”
In addition to giving federal employees four weeks of paid leave, FEPPLA would allow them to use any accumulated annual or sick leave to offset the 12 weeks of unpaid leave guaranteed by the Family and Medical Leave Act. By failing to provide paid parental leave, the federal government lags behind both the private sector and many industrialized nations.
In 2008, the FEPPLA bill was determined by the Congressional Budget Office to have no “PAYGO” implications.
In the 111th Congress, a version of this legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives, with bipartisan support, by a margin of 258-154.
For information on last Congress’s version, visit: http://maloney.house.gov/index.php?option=com_issues&task=view_issue&issue=263&parent=21&Itemid=35
● Most people would be surprised to learn that the federal government does not currently provide any paid parental leave for its employees. Employees must cobble together accrued annual and sick leave if they want to receive a paycheck while they are out.
● There could not be a worse time to ask parents to choose between their job and their new child than during an economic downturn. Losing either parent’s salary poses real hardships for working families, especially in the face of thousands of dollars of extra baby expenses and rising prices for food and gas.
● As the nation’s largest employer, with over 1.8 million employees all over the country, the federal government should be a leader in family-friendly workplace policy. Right now, we’re lagging behind. The Joint Economic Committee surveyed Fortune 100 companies and concluded that nearly three-quarters of those large companies offered 6 – 8 weeks of paid leave.
● The current practice of saving unused vacation time and sick days may work for the lucky family who never gets sick or takes a vacation, but it is unrealistic for most families.
● The federal government is struggling to recruit and retain a qualified workforce. While we cannot compete with salaries in the private sector, we should be able to provide comparable, if not better, benefits.
● The federal workforce is aging, indicating difficulty hiring younger workers. The average age of federal workers increased from 43.6 years to 46.7 years from 1994-2004. Family-friendly benefits could help attract younger workers.
● Most families no longer have a stay-at-home parent to care for a new child and they can’t afford to forgo pay for any length of time.
● A middle class family spends nearly $11,000 on expenses for an infant such as food, clothing, health care, and child care, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
●A general lack of infant care requires that working parents take leave to care for their newborn. Government-sponsored day care facilities, for example, typically do not care for infants younger than 10 to 12 weeks old.
● Turnover is more expensive than providing paid leave. The average cost of turnover is about 20 percent of an employee’s annual salary. Four weeks of paid leave is less than 8 percent of an employee’s salary.
● New parents who have access to leave when their first child is born are more likely to stay with their employer than those who aren’t.
● The lack of paid parental leave puts federal agencies far behind what is common in every other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nation.