4/11/08: At a hearing on paid parental leave earlier this spring, an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) representative indicated that the agency had developed a legislative proposal for a short-term disability program. At that time, the only detail available was that the program would cost federal employees approximately $40 per pay period. After the hearing, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley wrote to OPM Director Springer asking for more details and suggesting that different ways be explored to fund the program other than through employee contributions.
On March 25, NTEU received a response from Director Springer indicating that OPM is seeking permission from Congress to contract with a qualified insurance carrier to create a short-term disability insurance program that would cover disability due to accident, illness, or maternity. That is all the detail that was provided ― in other words ― not much. She did not address NTEU's concerns about including unions and other employee groups in the design of such a program.
NTEU believes that Congress and the union both see a short-term disability program as something that would complement a paid parental leave program, not as a replacement for a paid parental leave program. We believe that the cost of the program should in no way be paid for entirely by employees.
NTEU will continue to work with Congress to design new benefits in these areas that will help us to recruit and retain federal employees. We will provide you more information as it becomes available.