Federal Employees Need Paid Family Leave, Reardon Tells Congress

Press Release June 24, 2021

Washington D.C. – A medical crisis at home would no longer force federal employees to choose between their paychecks and their families if Congress approved a comprehensive paid leave program, according to testimony submitted today by NTEU National President Tony Reardon. 


Reardon’s statement was provided to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which conducted a hearing today on the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act (H.R. 564). NTEU has long supported the idea because it would improve the government’s ability to recruit and retain skilled workers and help federal employees navigate a longer-term medical issue without taking unpaid leave and going into debt. 


“When this movement began, we wanted the federal government to be a leader and model employer in providing this benefit to employees. Now, federal agencies lag far behind the public and private sector and are finding it increasingly difficult to attract younger workers, who see this benefit as a crucial part of their compensation,” Reardon wrote. 


Paid family leave is a common-sense expansion to the paid parental leave program that took effect last year and has helped hundreds of federal employees put their families first when the need arises.  


The paid family leave legislation, sponsored by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in the House and by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) in the Senate, would expand paid leave to circumstances already covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, such as providing care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition; the employee’s own serious health condition; or if an urgent need arises because the employee’s spouse, child or parent is on covered active duty in the Armed Forces. 


Several states have had paid family leave programs for years and others are in the process of implementation. And the Biden administration has called for paid leave for all Americans, indicating that the issue is growing in popularity and support, especially during the pandemic. 

“Providing paid family leave to federal employees is a win for both the employees and the government,” Reardon wrote. “Employees would be allowed time to take care of themselves or a family member with a serious health condition, and agencies would not have to cover the costs of recruiting and training new employees and would be better able to compete with the private sector and those forward-looking states for talented individuals.” 


NTEU represents employees in 34 federal agencies and offices.