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6-Week Paid Leave Act for Fed Employees

February 14, 2017, 9:00 AM HST
* Updated February 14, 8:40 AM
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U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (FEPPLA), legislation that would provide federal employees with six weeks of paid leave, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.

“While private companies across the country are beginning to see the benefits of providing paid family leave, the United States is still the only industrial nation in the world without a program that gives working parents the time off and income they need to care for a new child,” said Sen. Schatz. “Our bill will provide federal workers with six weeks of paid leave, making sure no federal employee has to make the impossible choice between caring for their family and keeping their job.”

“Forcing employees to choose between their family and their paycheck makes no sense and it’s bad for our economy,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “FEPPLA is an important step forward in addressing the lack of a national paid family leave program in this country, and its enactment would provide the Federal government with an important tool that many employers already use to attract and retain employees. When we force families to choose between a sick child or dying parent and their income, we all lose and that’s why I’ll keep pushing for paid family leave for every American worker.”

“As the only industrialized country without paid parental leave, the United States leaves too many mothers and fathers no choice but to return to work mere days after bringing a new child into their home. As we fight for this right for all American workers, the federal government can set an important example by providing paid parental leave for civil servants,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “Not only would this legislation benefit many Maryland families, it would help the federal government attract and retain the best and brightest workers to serve the public.”

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to tend to medical and family issues, it does not provide any paid parental leave. Women are most affected by this, as they are more likely than men to have to take this type of leave.

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Studies have shown that providing paid parental leave for federal employees would save the government at least $50 million annually in turnover and replacement costs. It could also prevent the departure of 2,650 female federal employees annually while attracting and retaining talented workers.

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The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act is supported by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) and the Federal-Postal Coalition.

“AFSCME strongly supports the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which offers six weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees, including thousands of AFSCME members, to care for their newborn, newly adopted or new foster child,” said Scott Frey, AFSCME director of Federal Government Affairs. “Sen. Schatz’s important legislation would greatly help parents and children during these important first weeks together. This federal standard also sets an important precedent for all employers to adopt similar helpful policies. Unfortunately, America is the only industrial nation in the world to not guarantee paid parental leave to all workers. America should not force moms and dads to choose between a paycheck and their child. We should support FEPPLA, parenthood, and family time together.”

“Parents should never have had to make the hard choice between getting a paycheck or caring for their child,” said J. David Cox, national president of AFGE. “Thanks to Sen. Brian Schatz, there is a chance they may no longer have to make that decision. The Federal Employee Paid Parental Leave Act will allow the hard-working men and women to have the time they need to care for new additions to their household without being left with to grapple with economic uncertainty.”

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“Having children, either through birth, adoption or fostering, is a life-changing event for any family and Sen. Schatz’s legislation to provide paid parental leave for federal employees is a smart, pro-family idea,” said Tony Reardon, national president of NTEU.NTEU strongly supports giving parents six weeks worth of pay while they nurture a new child at this crucial time in their life. Federal employees, like their private sector counterparts, should be able to afford to stay home when their family needs them the most. We appreciate the Senator stepping up once again on this important issue.”

“Providing paid parental leave is a reflection of the value that the citizens of this country place on family and parenting,” said Richard Thissen, national president of NARFE. “But it has also been well-documented that paid parental leave also has strong practical benefits. It improves recruitment and retention of highly qualified, talented employees. It also would boost employee morale, which has been shown to increase productivity. Many private-sector employers recognize the value of the policy. It is past time for the federal government to do so as well.”

“The Federal-Postal Coalition proudly endorses the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which would provide six weeks of paid leave to federal employees for the birth or adoption of a child,” said Kori Blalock Keller, chair of the Federal-Postal Coalition. “This is about valuing family and parenting and providing priceless time for new parents to bond with their child. Parents should never be forced to make difficult trade-offs between spending this time with their child, or being able to pay their bills. But paid parental leave also has the added benefit of improving recruitment and retention, reducing turnover, improving employee morale, and increasing productivity. This is why major private-sector employers have paid parental leave policies, and it would be wise for the federal government to follow suit.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representative by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

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