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Legislation Introduced to Provide Federal Workers With Paid Family Leave

April 11, 2019, 11:59 AM HST
* Updated April 11, 11:27 AM
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Sen. Brian Schatz introduced the Federal Employees Paid Leave Act on Thursday, April 11, 2019, new legislation that would provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or a sick loved one.

“It’s 2019. Everyone’s juggling work and family, but the policies haven’t changed with the times,” said Sen. Schatz.“Our bill will provide federal workers with 12 weeks of paid leave, making sure no federal employee has to make the impossible choice between caring for their family and keeping their job.”

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 leave.

Studies have shown that providing paid leave for federal employees would save the government at least $50 million annually in turnover and replacement costs. Federal agencies are already struggling to recruit and retain young talent. Just 6% of the federal workforce is under the age of 30, while roughly 40% of the workforce is eligible to retire within the next three years.

“For too many Americans, hard work doesn’t pay off. If we truly value the dignity of work, we need to recognize that paid family leave is something all workers should have the opportunity to earn,” said Sen. Brown. “I’m glad to join Senators Schatz, Van Hollen, and Merkley on this important legislation as we continue to invest in our workforce and ensure that hard work is rewarded.”

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“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 just days after bringing a new child home,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “As we fight for this right for all workers, the federal government can and should set the example. Providing paid parental leave for civil servants would benefit many Maryland families, and it would help the federal government attract and retain the best and brightest workers to serve the public.”

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“Federal workers do critical work that keeps America running,” said Sen. Merkley. “These workers need to have the paid leave that will enable them to do their best work and be there for their families during important life moments. Let’s pass this bill, and make it a step towards providing all Americans with paid family leave.”

Sen. Schatz’s legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“We applaud Senator Schatz and the members of the Senate who have introduced an expanded paid leave bill that addresses the full range of caregiving needs reflected in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),” said Debra L. Ness, president of National Partnership for Women & Families. “By including caregiving needs beyond parental leave, the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) would be a model for the kind of comprehensive paid leave that all working people deserve, no matter where they live or work,”

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“NTEU applauds Senator Schatz for recognizing that the federal government should be leading the way in developing family friendly workplace policies, and the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act is a prime example,” said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. “There comes a time in every family where some extra help is necessary—whether it’s a newborn or an elderly parent or a sick loved one—and the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act would give our nation’s civil servants the ability to be there for their families without putting themselves into financial distress. NTEU strongly supports this legislation.”

“Thank you to Senator Schatz for introducing this legislation that would provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid leave for reasons covered by the FMLA, including a new child, a family illness, or issues involving military deployments,” said J. David Cox, Sr., national president of AFGE. “Extending this benefit to federal employees will help them better balance their work and home lives, and it will give agencies a needed advantage when recruiting and retaining workers to carry out critical missions on behalf of the country.”

The Federal Employees Paid 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), the Federal-Postal Coalition, and the National Partnership for Women & Families.

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