Paid Family Leave for Federal Employees Closer Than Ever to Becoming Law

Press Release October 10, 2019

Washington D.C. – Inspired by the heartfelt stories of frontline federal employees around the country, the National Treasury Employees Union is urging Congress to include a paid family leave program for federal employees during final negotiations next week over the defense policy bill.


NTEU National President Tony Reardon, in cooperation with a broad coalition of family-friendly organizations, is encouraging NTEU members to make their voices heard as Congress moves closer than ever to giving federal employees a paid leave program.


The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act provides federal workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the arrival of a new child or to take care of a critically ill family member or a serious personal medical condition. The House added it to the 2020 defense authorization bill, which is in final negotiations with the Senate, where bipartisan support for the program has grown.


“As one of the country’s largest employers, the U.S. government should be leading this effort. Instead, they are lagging miserably behind private-sector employers,” Reardon told reporters Thursday. “This is a proven program that helps employees and keeps employees.”

NTEU asked members to send in their stories about how paid family leave would have helped them or their families, and within days the union received more than 250 poignant responses.

"We were overwhelmed by the stories our members sent us. Federal employees all over the country explained how paid family leave would have kept them out of debt, allowed them to see their loved ones before they passed, fully recover from childbirth and nurse a family member back to health," Reardon said. "Their voices are now being heard in the halls of Congress as we continue to urge lawmakers to pass the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act into law."


One NTEU member explained how she cares for her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Despite a 29-year career with the federal government, she has only five hours of sick leave to draw on. Another federal employee had an unexpectedly difficult birth with her first child. She borrowed sick leave and will not have it paid back until December 2020. A third union member drove eight hours each way on weekends for eight months to be with her father who was in a Veterans Affairs hospice in another state. He passed away yesterday.


“Like all American families, federal employees can be pushed to the brink, emotionally and financially, when a family crisis arises,” Reardon said.


NTEU is proud to be part of a coalition supporting this important benefit for federal employees, which sent a letter today to key lawmakers.


“Our nation’s public servants are being forced to make impossible choices between losing a paycheck and taking the time they need to care for a new child, family member or their own medical issue,” said Erika Moritsugu, Vice President of Economic Justice at the National Partnership for Women and Families. “This is putting a terrible burden on federal workers, and the government and taxpayers are paying a price as well through the costs of employee turnover and replacement.”