Parental leave act moves closer to law

Supporters of legislation to give federal employees the right to take paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child had cause to celebrate on Thursday evening.

The House passed the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (H.R. 626) by a vote of 258-154, fending off criticism of its price tag. A companion bill, S. 354, sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., is before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he was sure President Obama would sign the measure if it reaches his desk. On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement saying it "agrees with the goals" of H.R. 626 and looks forward to working with Congress on the issue.

The bill would give federal employees four weeks of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child, and would let the Office of Personnel Management grant an additional four weeks of paid leave through regulations. Those weeks would be within the 12 weeks of unpaid leave mandated by the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.

The bill's sponsors said they had been advocating this benefit for the past 15 years. Similar legislation that guaranteed eight weeks of paid leave passed the House 278-146 in 2008, but languished in the Senate.

"This shows that the government doesn't just talk about family values -- it values families," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the 2009 bill's sponsor, during a news conference on Thursday.

According to Maloney's office, 53 percent of private sector companies offer some type of paid parental leave. She also noted that 167 countries guarantee parental leave for all their citizens.

Webb, a military veteran who also spoke at the news conference, said uniformed service members already are eligible for paid parental leave. "This is an issue of fairness," he said.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost would be $938 million over the period of fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2014. The estimate takes into account a 50 percent probability that OPM would increase the amount of paid leave through regulations.

The bill's cost made it a magnet for Republican criticism.

"These are tough times, regardless of what industry you're in," said Rep. Christopher Lee, R-N.Y. "Think about the retail workers who are being forced to do more with less. Think about that, when Washington turns around and offers more generous fringe benefits to public sector employees."

The House rejected an amendment by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, that would have kept the four weeks of paid parental leave, but required workers to use that as an advance, borrowed from future accrued vacation leave. The amendment also would have forced workers to use all available paid leave before taking paid parental leave.

In a statement Issa said the language would alleviate taxpayers' burden while ensuring the benefit for federal workers.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., opposed the amendment. "It's wrong," Lynch said during Thursday's press conference. "And from an employer's standpoint, it doesn't make sense."

Lynch's office said it would have gutted the bill, and that employees already can get advances of sick or vacation time to use after the birth of a child.

The amendment was defeated, 157-258.

The bill has support from the National Treasury Employees Union, American Federation of Government Employees and Federally Employed Women.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.