President Issues Memo Modernizing Federal Leave Policies


1/16/15: Pointing out the fact that the U.S. lags behind almost every country in ensuring some form of paid parental leave, and that workplace flexibilities help in recruiting and retaining employees, the President issued an Executive Memorandum directing agencies to ensure that their policies offer 240 hours of advanced sick leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child or for other sick leave eligible uses.  In addition, the memo directs agencies to offer the maximum amount of advanced annual leave permitted by law for bonding with a healthy newborn or newly adopted child.  Sick and annual leave as described in the memo have generally been available at the discretion of the manager.  The memo should make it easier for federal employees to take advantage of these flexibilities.  OPM is tasked with issuing guidance on these directives within 60 days. 

The memo also urges agencies to consider offering access to programs that provide affordable emergency backup dependent care.  Finally, the memo directs agencies to use discretionary flexibilities to the maximum extent possible.

The White House also indicated that the President will be sending legislation on paid parental leave for federal employees to the Hill in the near future.  While NTEU supports the President’s memo on paid parental leave, those actions are limited by federal law.  New law is needed for a paid parental leave program that will provide the same kind of benefit enjoyed by parents in the rest of the developed world.  Since 2003, Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY) has introduced bills, supported by NTEU, to provide paid parental leave to federal employees.  We look forward to the President’s version.