WASHINGTON -- Federal employees would have up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave under legislation nearing final passage in Congress, a major breakthrough for civil servants around the country to be able to afford dedicated time to their newly expanding families.
The National Treasury Employees Union for years has been an advocate for paid parental leave as a way to make the federal government a more attractive employer for the next generation of federal workers.
The program is part of the National Defense Authorization Act that was released late Monday and is expected to be voted on in the coming days.
“This is a monumental step forward in allowing federal employees to bond with their new children whether a new birth, adoption or foster. It is a crucial time in their lives, and they shouldn’t have to choose between their children and their paycheck,” said Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union. “I urge Congress to swiftly approve this family-friendly policy that will help federal agencies attract and retain the talented and dedicated employees necessary to carry out agencies’ missions.”
NTEU members have shared their stories of the heartbreaking choices they face when bringing a new child into their families yet not having enough paid leave to cover a few precious weeks of bonding.
“Many federal workers cannot afford to go without a paycheck and are forced to return to work too quickly,” Reardon said. “This will give them an option that private-sector employers in the United States and countries around the world already offer.”
Under the provisions of the bill, released Monday night, federal employees will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave upon the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.
It would bring parity with the Department of Defense, which already has a paid parental leave policy for members of the armed services.
For NTEU, this provides important but partial relief to federal families. The union remains a supporter of the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act that would allow 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 U.S. government is a large employer and should be a model employer. Instead, the government continues to lag behind which makes public service a less desirable option,” Reardon noted. “Let’s get the paid parental leave program in place and move swiftly to expanding it to paid family leave.”
NTEU thanks Sen. Brian Schatz, Chairman Adam Smith, Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and all the congressional supporters who understand the importance of proving paid parental leave to our country’s federal workforce.
NTEU represents about 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.