Workforce

House Dems want paid parental leave benefit to apply retroactively

US Congress House side Shutterstock photo ID: 156615524 By mdgn editorial use only 

After passing an historic paid parental leave provision in last 'year's defense authorization bill, Democratic House members are asking for the benefit of 12 weeks'' paid leave to apply to all federal workers who give birth to, foster, or adopt a child between Dec. 20 and Oct. 1.

In a May 8 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), 12 members led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) pointed out that the law left out thousands of federal employees who were welcoming children much earlier than Oct. 1, when the provision is set to go into effect.

The lawmakers argued that allowing them to take advantage of the benefit would relieve them of new pressures that the coronavirus has wrought.

Federal employees have had to contend with working while caring for children and dependents due to school and childcare facility closures, and there has been some confusion over how such workers can take advantage of an existing temporary excused paid leave benefit.

"We have heard recently from numerous pregnant federal workers who face an array of complex challenges, like not being able to count on family and friends for child care assistance because of social distancing, not being able to find safe and appropriate paid child care in the crisis, and navigating difficult or cancelled doctor visits," the members wrote.

"It has been shown that workers who are able to take paid parental leave are more productive and in better health when they return. Better child and parental health also means fewer emergency medical visits and a lighter burden on our already beleaguered health care system."

Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who signed the letter, had campaigned for years to pass a paid family leave law. Her Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which provided the language for the paid parental leave provision that was eventually included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

About the Author

Lia Russell is a former staff writer and associate editor at FCW.

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