Federal Employee Paid Leave Bill Introduced in Senate

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) has introduced a companion bill to House legislation granting federal employees 12 weeks of paid family leave. Currently, federal employees receive no paid time off for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child or to address family medical emergencies. Senator Schatz’s legislation, introduced last week, would allow federal employees to receive pay for this time off.

The Federal Employees Paid Leave Act was originally introduced in the House on March 5, 2019 by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

Upon introducing the Senate version of the bill, Senator Schatz noted in a press release, “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.”

While the Family and Medical Leave Act permits employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to handle medical and family issues, it provides no requirement for paid leave.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who cosponsored the bill alongside Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), explained in the release, “Federal workers do critical work that keeps America running. 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.”

The legislation has gained support from several federal employee groups.

“Paid family-leave policies have been shown to enhance the recruitment and retention of young professionals, reduce turnover costs significantly and improve employee morale, all of which are challenges facing the federal government,” said National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association National President Ken Thomas in a statement to the Federal Times.

National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon has also been critical of the federal government for failing to provide employees with paid leave.

Reardon notes, “We talk a pretty good game about supporting families, but when it comes to giving workers time to bond with their new children or nurse a loved one back to health we unfortunately fall far, far too short.”

Senator Schatz’s office lists the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Government Employees; National Treasury Employees Union; National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association; the Federal-Postal Coalition; and the National Partnership for Women & Families as supporters of the legislation.

The House bill currently has 29 cosponsors, including 27 Democrats and two Republicans.

Posted in From the Hill

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