Five Democratic representatives on Tuesday reintroduced a bill that would guarantee at least four weeks of paid leave for federal employees who become new parents, whether through the birth or adoption of a child.
HR 517 — sponsored by Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Gerry Connolly, D-Va., George Miller, D-Calif., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. — would grant all feds who become parents four weeks of paid parental leave, apart from their stored sick or annual leave. They would then be able to use up to eight additional weeks of sick or annual leave to be at home with their new children.
This leave would be in lieu of, and not in addition to, the 12 weeks of unpaid leave guaranteed by the Family and Medical Leave Act. It would be available to both fathers and mothers.
The National Treasury Employees Union issued a statement Thursday strongly supporting the bill, and said some federal employees do not have 12 weeks of leave stored to care for their newborn or newly-adopted children. Said NTEU National President Colleen Kelley:
This paid parental leave act will make a significant difference in the lives of both parent and child. It is time for the federal government, as the largest employer in this country, to step up and make parental leave benefits a reality — not a mirage that few can afford to use. While the FMLA has been a terrific first step in helping employees balance family and work needs, no federal employee with a new child should be forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for the newest member of the family.
Maloney last introduced her paid parental leave bill in February 2011, but it died in committee. The House passed a previous version in 2009, but it died in the Senate.
There are also at least two petitions on the White House’s petition site urging the government to require paid maternity leave, although they are not specific to the federal government.