NTEU-Supported Paid Parental Leave Bill Introduced in Senate


2/2/09: NTEU-supported legislation introduced in the Senate last week would provide federal employees with four weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The Senate bill matches legislation previously introduced in the House of Representatives.

NTEU National President Colleen Kelley, who has been a strong proponent of providing federal workers with paid parental leave, said the measure is a useful tool for boosting retention in the current workforce as well as with the recruitment of younger federal employees. “Paid parental leave is an important benefit for the government to have in order to compete with the private sector for the top talent we want working in federal agencies,” President Kelley said.

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. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for federal employees for numerous reasons, including childbirth or adoption. “There is growing support in Congress for paid parental leave for federal employees which reflects an understanding that the government should have a well-rounded benefits package that matches those offered by top U.S. firms and which recognizes the value federal workers bring to our country,” she said.

The legislation, S. 354, was introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). It follows the introduction in the House of similar legislation. In the last session of Congress, paid parental leave for federal employees was approved by the House, and in the Senate the legislation had the support of then-Sen. Barack Obama. Providing this benefit to federal employees was one of the recommendations NTEU made to the Obama transition team shortly following the Nov. 4 election.

 “With many families struggling to pay their bills, it is time for the federal government to stop having their workforce make a choice between a paycheck and the care of a newborn or adopted child,” President Kelley said. “This measure would take a big step toward strengthening the government’s ability to recruit and retain much-needed workers and make a real difference in the lives of federal employees nationwide.”
Paid leave, Kelley added, would also save the government money by reducing employee turnover and replacement costs—estimated to be about 25 percent of the worker’s salary.