New Bill Allows Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees

Family, Medical, and Other Leave Discrimination

On June 28, a new bill was introduced in the House that would grant U.S. federal employees up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. The bill is called the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2018 and strives to help the federal government keep up with what many large companies are already offering their employees.

Representative Barbara Comstock, a sponsor of the bill, backed the bill because of the many benefits paid parental leave offers parents and their children. Allowing new mothers and fathers paid time off to spend with their new child has been shown to allow women to stay in the workforce while also lowering the rate of postpartum depression. Fathers who are given paid time off from work after the birth or adoption of a child are more likely to become engaged with their child, even after they return to work.

The bill states that parents working for the federal government would no longer need to use sick days or their annual vacation leave to stay at home with their child. Before the bill was introduced, using these benefits as an equivalent parental leave period was the only option parents had. Under the bill, the Office of Management and Budget could possibly even allow up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave to an employee to be better able to recruit competitively and retain quality employees.

With so many companies offering better parental benefits to their workers, it was argued by supporters of the bill that it did not make sense that the federal government would not offer the same. By not doing so, the government could lose out on quality employees that will look elsewhere for the benefits they need.

The Paid Parental Leave Act of 2018 is not only good news for federal workers who may become new parents in the future, but also for the federal government, the largest employer in the country. By offering paid parental leave to workers, it boosts morale. This is shown to have a direct impact on productivity. The policy can also be used to recruit and retain new workers, which reduces the costs associated with turnover significantly.

Many in the House have been working on a bill of this kind for some time. In 2017 a similar bill was proposed but was never passed. The 2018 bill has not been made into law just yet, but it has been forwarded to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, as well as the Committee on House Administration. Should it pass through both committees, it would be a great stride in allowing federal employees the time they need at home to welcome a new child.