House lawmakers reintroduce paid parental leave bill

Lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced legislation that would give all federal employees four weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

Employees currently can use a combination of paid annual leave, paid sick leave and unpaid leave for childbirth or adoption under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. Federal parents can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave, and up to 13 days of paid sick leave to care for newborn or adopted children.

In addition to the four weeks of paid leave, the legislation also would allow feds to use any accumulated annual or sick leave to offset the 12 weeks of unpaid leave mandated by FMLA.

The bill's sponsors have been advocating for this benefit for more than a decade. The House previously has passed paid parental leave legislation with bipartisan support, but it typically has languished in the Senate.

"The federal government can make 'family friendly' more than a buzzword and ensure that both newborns and the government benefit -- especially as government needs to attract new workers to replace retiring baby boomers," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., a sponsor of the bill.

The Joint Economic Committee surveyed Fortune 100 companies and learned that nearly 75 percent of them offered their employees six to eight weeks of paid leave. In 2001, the Office of Personnel Management, which administers leave policy, published a report that found the federal government's leave policies compared favorably with those of the private sector.

"To recruit and retain the next generation of civil servants, the federal government must have personnel policies that are competitive with the private sector," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., also a sponsor of the legislation.

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