U.S. Reps Push PAID Leave for Federal Employees
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Frank R.Wolf (R-VA), Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) today introduced the “Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act” (FEPPLA), H.R. 626, bipartisan 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. The bill passed the House in the last Congress by 278-146. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA).
“With this bill, the Federal government can lead the way. Amazingly, 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 should not 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.”
“The legislation introduced by Representative Maloney today is an issue of fairness for the working family,” said Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). “Paid parental leave for federal employees will improve recruitment and retention for government agencies. I look forward to re-introducing this measure in the U.S. Senate to advance a standard for family-friendly workplace policy that supports our federal workers.”
“The aim of this legislation is to keep the federal workforce in step with the private sector, which has been providing this benefit for many years,” said Rep. Wolf. “And with the coming wave of federal retirements, we must ensure that federal employment is a competitive option for young Americans starting families.”
“Rather than penalize workers for taking time off to care for a newborn, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act offers a commonsense policy that recognizes the special demands a parent faces in bringing a new child into the world,” said Rep. Hoyer. “Policies such as this, which help workers maintain a healthy work-life balance, are critical both to employee morale and in competing with the private sector to attract and retain the strongest talent to the federal workforce.”
“Paid parental leave for federal workers strengthens families, sets an environment of love and concern for children, protects workers and stabilizes our federal workforce.," said Rep. Davis. “Paid parental leave promotes greater gender equality. Yet, among the developed economies of the world, the U.S. has the least generous parental leave policies. This is not where we should be as a nation, as a government or as an employer. I hope this bill is a first step in altering our policy on parental leave.”
“During birth, adoption, and foster care, extra child care expenses and unpaid time away from work can leave a family without basic necessities and no replacement income,” said Rep. Towns. “This pro-family bill can help federal employees receive the benefits that they deserve and focus on caring for their children instead of worrying about how to do more with less.”
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 (53% of private-sector employers provide some form of paid parental leave), and many industrialized nations.
Last year, the FEPPLA bill was determined by the Congressional Budget Office to have no “PAYGO” implications.
For information on last year’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 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.
● 75 percent of Fortune 100 Companies provide paid leave to new mothers. The median length of leave is six to eight weeks.
● 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.