Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced on Friday new legislation to expand federal paid leave to include 12 weeks of family and medical leave covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
While parental leave is paid for federal employees under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act of 2019, family and medical leave is unpaid.
“The current public health crisis has shown us why it’s so important to have strong paid leave policies, but our current laws are still forcing federal workers to make the impossible choice between caring for their families and keeping their jobs,” said Schatz. “Our bill will provide federal workers with 12 weeks of paid leave, giving them the time they need to take care of their own health and their loved ones.”
Guaranteed 12 Weeks Paid Family Leave for Federal Employees
If passed, the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act (S 1158) will guarantee 12 weeks of paid family leave for federal employees in all instances covered by the FMLA.
Specifically, the bill guarantees 12 weeks of paid leave in the following cases:
– In order to care for the spouse, or a child, or parent, of the employee, if such spouse, child, or parent has a serious health condition;
– Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position; and
– Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, or child, or parent of the employee is on covered active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty) in the Armed Forces.
Shatz cites studies that indicate providing paid leave for federal employees would save the government at least $50 million annually in turnover and replacement costs.
Federal Employee Groups Support
“Providing federal employees with 12 weeks of paid leave to address all circumstances currently covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act would improve quality of life for workers while making the federal government a more competitive and attractive employer,” said Everett Kelley, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees.
“When a medical crisis hits home, the federal workers we represent need some assurance that they can take time off without sacrificing income, and a paid family leave program would provide that assurance,” said Tony Reardon, National President of National Treasury Employees Union.
“Too often federal employees have limited leave and are forced to take unpaid leave when they or a family member have an extended illness,” Reardon said. “Paid family leave for federal employees builds on the paid parental leave policy and is a smart, pro-family, pro-worker policy that would help attract people to federal service, and we commend Sen. Schatz for sponsoring this important legislation.”
The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act is also supported by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, National Federation of Federal Employees, NARFE, AAUW, National Association of Letter Carriers, American Postal Workers Union, and the National Partnership for Women and Families.
The bill is cosponsored by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).