Signaling on Key Work-Life Policy from Congress
Last week the U.S. House of Representatives took a significant, if overdue, step to provide four weeks of paid parental leave to federal government workers in all three branches of government.
If it becomes law, H.R. 5781, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, will ensure that nearly two million federal employees will be able to take time off to care for a new child. It’s surprising, in fact sort of shocking, that the federal government is behind the curve on this public policy--the vast majority of Fortune 500 employers already provide six to eight weeks of paid parental leave, while federal employees are only entitled to unpaid leave. While employees can use vacation and sick days for this purpose, most workers need that time for their intended purposes.
The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney noted:
“As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government should be a leader in family-friendly workplace policy. Not only do we lag behind the private sector, but we also lag behind what is offered in other countries. We are the only industrialized country that does not offer any paid parental leave to all citizens. The European Union requires that its member-countries offer a minimum of 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, and most countries exceed that amount.”
Next, it will be up to the Senate to pass this legislation. Providing paid parental leave to all federal workers would help the government with recruitment and retention. But most importantly, our government would send a powerful signal to all employers by enacting this critical work-life policy.