By KieferPix /

One Agency Finds a Way to Provide Paid Parental Leave, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced last week that it had reached an agreement with the National Treasury Employees Union to provide employees six weeks of paid parental leave starting next year.

Beginning in January 2020, all FDIC employees will be eligible for six weeks of paid time off per year related to the birth, adoption or fostering of a child. New employees will qualify for the program immediately upon their hiring.

The leave can be taken all at once or intermittently, provided it is taken within a year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster placement, and is separate from unpaid leave available through the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The new benefit will be offered as part of FDIC’s new compensation agreement with NTEU, which is pending ratification. FDIC’s budget comes from financial institutions’ insurance premiums, not congressional appropriations.

“We are proud to provide this important benefit to our employees to ease some of the burden and worry that new parents face,” said FDIC Chairwoman Jelena McWilliams, in a statement. “We recognize that many of our employees spend much of their time on the road and away from their family, and it is important that they feel supported. The paid parental leave will allow the FDIC to be more competitive with the private sector in attracting the next generation of top talent.”

Federal workforce groups and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are pushing to include language in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would provide 12 weeks of paid family leave for all federal workers. Unlike the program at FDIC, the leave would also be available to help a child, parent or spouse with a serious medical condition, in addition to the welcoming of a new child.

On a call last week, NTEU National President Tony Reardon said lawmakers were “very close” to approving the program. The House included the provision in its version of the defense authorization bill, and the Senate narrowly voted against instructing its negotiators to adopt the language in the compromise bill. Four Republicans crossed party lines to support the measure and several Democrats were absent.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of federal retirees will see a 1.6% cost of living adjustment in their defined benefit pensions next year, according to an announcement last week from the Social Security Administration.

The increase, which is based on the percentage increase in the average Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the third quarter of the current year over the same statistic in the previous year, marks a decrease from the 2.8% increase at the beginning of this year.

But the 2019 increase was unevenly distributed—under the current formula, if the CPI-W difference is between 2% and 3%, Federal Employees Retirement System retirees receive a 2% COLA, while Civil Service Retirement System participants receive the full value of the increase. Unlike this year, in January 2020, both FERS and CSRS retirees will see a 1.6% increase in their government pensions.