NTEU Supports Paid Family Leave Program in Build Back Better Legislation

Press Release November 4, 2021

Washington D.C. – The Build Back Better’s paid family leave plan is a life-changing benefit for American workers – including federal employees -- that would give them the ability to handle a temporary medical crisis without forfeiting income.

“When a loved one is critically ill, the last thing workers need is to be forced to choose between their family and their paycheck,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “Working class families deserve the right to navigate a serious medical situation or the arrival of a new child without running up debts while on unpaid leave, which is why the National Treasury Employees Union strongly supports this provision.”

The paid family leave program now under consideration by Congress would provide most workers in the public and private sector a portion of their wages for up to four weeks to welcome a new child, recover from a serious illness or care for a seriously ill family member. For federal employees who already have access to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, the new program would provide four weeks of partially paid leave for medical reasons currently outlined by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

“Too many federal employees have exhausted all of their sick and annual leave when a serious accident or illness strikes, and taking leave without pay only compounds an already tragic and stressful situation,” Reardon said. “We commend the many members of Congress and other advocates who have fought long and hard to give American workers a benefit that is commonplace in most other countries.”

NTEU spent 20 years fighting for the paid parental leave program that took effect last year and has helped countless federal employees take the time they need to care for their new children without sacrificing income. Since that law was signed, NTEU has continued to fight for expanding it to paid medical leave.

The Build Back Better paid family leave program would provide wages on a sliding scale based on income, with lower wage earners receiving most of their paychecks while on the leave, and a smaller amount for high-wage earners. The benefit would not apply to those who make more than $250,000 a year.

NTEU represents about 150,000 employees in 34 federal agencies and departments.