Senate follows House, White House in pushing for paid family leave for feds

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would give federal employees six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act would give new parents the option to switch any type of unpaid leave with six weeks of paid leave, and also let feds take the six weeks as they choose, whether it be at...

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Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would give federal employees six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act would give new parents the option to switch any type of unpaid leave with six weeks of paid leave, and also let feds take the six weeks as they choose, whether it be at separate times or all in one shot.

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) lets employees take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical and family issues, it doesn’t provide a paid parental leave.

“No working parent should be forced to choose between caring for their family and keeping their job,” said Mikulski in a statement. “This legislation will provide a critical lifeline to working moms and dads to provide the care and support infants and children need. ”

The National Treasury Employees Union praised Schatz and Mikulski for introducing the legislation. In a statement, NTEU President Tony Reardon said it would ease the pressure on feds who struggle to be good parents and good public servants.

“These proposals would align federal parental leave policies with the private sector and bring the U.S. closer in line with other industrialized nations,” Reardon said.

The American Federation of Government Employees also praised FEPPLA’s introduction, saying it would serve as a model for U.S. employers to see the economic and family benefit of paid parental leave.

“We cannot continue to hire the best and brightest to care for our veterans, secure our borders and keep our communities safe without offering benefits like these to attract those workers,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox.

The Senate bill is the second introduced this year in a growing push to get federal workers paid leave when they have a new addition to the family. President Barack Obama signed a memo in January telling agencies to advance up to six weeks of leave for new parents. He also urged Congress to pass a bill to make this benefit permanent.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced the original bill H.R. 532 in January, which gives feds a total 12 weeks of combined paid leave. It also amends the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to grant the same rights to covered congressional employees, Government Accountability Office employees and employees at the Library of Congress.

“While private companies are beginning to see the benefits of providing paid family leave, America is still the only industrial nation in the world without a program that gives working parents the time off and income they need to care for a new child,” Schatz said.  “Our legislation will provide federal workers with six weeks of paid leave, making sure no federal employee has to make the impossible choice between caring for a newborn child and putting dinner on the table.”

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