NTEU Applauds House Bill to Provide Paid Parental Leave for Federal Workers


1/22/09: A bipartisan measure introduced this week in the House of Representatives would provide federal workers with four weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child and bring the government’s approach to this key benefit closer to that of the private sector and many other industrialized nations, said NTEU National President Colleen Kelley, who applauded the bill’s introduction.

President Kelley has long argued the importance of providing paid parental leave for federal employees. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for federal workers for a number of reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child.

“While the FMLA has been a terrific first step in helping employees balance family needs and work needs,” President Kelley said, “this legislation is needed to follow through on that promise and ensure that every federal worker has the ability to adequately care for a new family.”

The legislation, H.R. 626, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, is similar to one approved by the House in the last session of Congress, and was introduced by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.).

Under the bill, federal employees caring for a newborn or adopted child would be able to combine their paid and FMLA leave. President Kelley has previously testified in Congress about the hardships some federal employees face when forced to choose between a paycheck and the desire to stay home with a new child.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) indicated his plans to introduce a companion measure in the Senate, as he did in the last session of Congress along with then-Sen. Barack Obama as a co-sponsor.

Paid parental leave for federal employees was one of the recommendations that NTEU made to the Obama transition team shortly following the Nov. 4 election.

“A benefit such as paid parental leave breathes life into the notion of a family-friendly workplace, and serves as an important and highly-visible tool to aid the recruitment and retention efforts of federal agencies,” President Kelley said. It would also save the government money by reducing employee turnover and replacement costs, which is estimated to be 25 percent of the worker’s salary, she added.