Paid parental leave for feds in NDAA

U.S. Capitol (Photo by M DOGAN / Shutterstock) 

The must-pass 2020 National Defense Authorization Act is set to emerge from conference committee with a provision that includes 12 weeks of paid parental leave for civilian federal employees to care for a new child.

The benefit -- long sought by advocates for federal workers -- puts civilian feds on par with the uniformed military who get the same benefit.

For years, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the new chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, has campaigned for expanded parental and family leave benefits. She's the lead sponsor of Federal Employee Paid Leave Act -- the measure that provided some of the legislative language for provision in the NDAA. At a Sept. 25 hearing, Maloney contended that paid leave is often a deciding factor when workers are offered employment in either the public or private sector and it's lack hurts retention and recruitment among federal workers.

"For a country that talks about family values, when you look at the policies we have in place we are really far behind the rest of the world," she said at the hearing. Most civilian federal workers must use accrued sick or unpaid leave time to care for a new child. Many feds rely on donated leave from colleagues.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation recently extended six-weeks of parental leave to employees as part of a recent union contract, but that's the exception and not the rule for civilian feds.

The NDAA still needs to clear some critical hurdles, including adoption of the conference report by the conference committee as well as getting support from legislative leaders and passing in the House and Senate before being signed into law by the president.

"This will be a crucial win for federal employees and their families and a significant development in our ongoing fight for comprehensive paid family and medical leave for all Americans," Maloney told the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of the parental leave measure late Dec. 6.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the parental leave measure was included in the bill as part of a deal to authorize the establishment of Space Force as a military service inside the Air Force. The parental leave measure was backed inside the Trump administration by Ivanka Trump.

"As the country's largest employer, the United States Government must lead by example," the president's daughter and senior adviser tweeted Dec. 6. "After 3 years of relentless advocacy, the passage of the NDAA will secure Paid Parental Leave for ALL federal employees."

About the Author

Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.

Contact Lia at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.


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