Washington D.C. – Federal employees who experience a long-term medical crisis would have access to more paid leave under legislation introduced today in the House and Senate and endorsed by the National Treasury Employees Union.
The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act would provide up to 12 weeks of paid time off when a federal employee or someone in their immediate family is dealing with a serious illness and extensive recovery.
“Losing a paycheck during a medical emergency is just not something workers should have to do, and this legislation would make sure federal employees are able to care for themselves or their family member without worrying about how they are going to pay their household bills,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “When people talk about pro-family legislation, this is it.”
The lead sponsors of the bill are Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia.
In order to qualify for the paid leave, a federal employee must have worked for a federal agency for at least 12 months. Importantly, the legislation does not require an employee exhaust all of their sick or annual leave before applying for the paid family and medical leave.
“Too often I hear from federal workers who have exhausted their sick and annual leave to handle a major medical situation, and then they have to resort to unpaid leave,” Reardon said. “Their choice is to either go into debt or go back to work before they are ready. The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act would eliminate the need for federal employees to choose between their family and their job.”
The U.S. recently observed the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which revolutionized the American workplace by providing employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. NTEU strongly supports expanding that law to provide access to paid leave for all employees. NTEU also supports the guidance from President Biden last week that agencies find ways to increase access to paid and unpaid leave for their employees, especially for new employees who haven’t accrued paid leave and don’t yet qualify for the FMLA.
NTEU represents employees in 34 federal agencies and offices.