Washington, D.C. – The federal government should join the growing private sector trend and provide employees with paid leave for the arrival of a new child, National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon told Congress today.
“When this movement began, we wanted the federal government to be a leader and model employer in providing this benefit to employees,” Reardon said in written testimony to the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy. “Now, federal agencies lag far behind the private sector and are finding it increasingly difficult to attract younger workers, who see this benefit as a crucial part of their compensation.”
NTEU has worked with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) since 2003 to create a paid parental leave policy for the men and women of the federal civil service. While her legislation providing federal employees with six weeks of paid parental leave has twice passed the House, it has not passed the Senate. NTEU supports her current bill, H.R. 1022 as well as S. 362, by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).
“As you know, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows 12 weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child; however, it is unpaid leave. Few federal employees can afford to take weeks of unpaid leave,” Reardon wrote. “While the FMLA has played a vital role for workers, we continue to believe that no federal employee should be forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for the newest member of the family.”
The Pentagon in 2016 increased paid maternity and paternity leave for members of the military.
Research has showed that the federal government could significantly reduce the departures of young female employees by offering paid parental leave, resulting in millions of dollars saved in turnover costs because first-time mothers with paid leave are more likely to return to their job.
“In addition, paid parental leave can lead to increased productivity, better morale and reduced absenteeism,” Reardon wrote. “And, federal agencies need to offer paid parental leave benefits, given that during the last ten years, almost every major U.S. corporation has instituted and expanded paid parental leave policies.”
Reardon submitted his testimony for today’s hearing, “Examining the Importance of Paid Family Leave for American Working Families.”
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 32 federal agencies and departments.