Family leave for feds would take effect in Oct. 2020

US Representative Carolyn Maloney attends festival on Roosevelt Island NY April 2019 - Image Editorial credit: lev radin / 

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act proposes to extend a family leave benefit to federal employees for the first time. House and Senate conferees agreed to include 12 weeks of paid leave for federal workers to care to a newborn, adoption or fostering of a child in the bill.

The provision only applies to workers who have worked for the government for at least a year, and mandates that they must stay for at least another 12 weeks after their return, though this requirement can be waived if the parent or child suffers an uncontrollable medical issue that prevents the parent’s return to work. If the NDAA passes with this provision, it would go into effect Oct. 1, 2020.

"If this agreement is signed into law, it will be a tremendous victory for the more than 2.1 million federal employees across the country. Parents finally will be able to have a baby without worrying about their paychecks suddenly coming to a halt," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the key sponsor of family leave legislation that was added to the NDAA.

Speaking at a Dec. 12 hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which she now chairs, Maloney said that work still needs to be done.

"Now this agreement is not perfect," Maloney said. "The Senate refused to approve paid leave for medical reasons… In addition this provision covers only federal employees, so it does not cover anyone working in a private corporation or business." The Dec. 10 hearing was held to discuss establishing family leave as a national benefit covering the public and private sectors.

Federal employee unions greeted the news of paid leave, but also expressed the hope that leave to care for a sick spouse or relative would be soon follow.

"The provision in this year's [NDAA] is a large step in the right direction for full family leave," AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley said in a statement. "The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer its citizens some level of paid parental leave. This agreement is a watershed moment that sets the stage for achieving the ultimate goal of providing all American workers with paid family leave."

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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