Support Growing For Paid Parental Leave Bill
At a Monday morning press conference on Capitol Hill, a number of family advocacy groups urged congressional support for the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (FEPPLA), H.R.626/S.354, a bill that would extend four weeks of paid parental leave to federal workers caring for their recently born, adopted or fostered child.
The legislation, passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives and FEPPLA SAP 11-14endorsed by the White House, has seen little action in the Senate beyond its referral to the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce. In holding this press conference Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), the chief sponsor of FEPPLA in the Senate, hoped to regain momentum for this crucial policy measure.
Under current law, federal employees are afforded 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newly born, adopted or fostered child. Though new parents are allowed to use their accrued sick and annual leave to cover the lost wages, this is not nearly enough in most cases.
According to a recent study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, one of the many family groups participating at the press conference, it would take the average federal employee 4.2 years to save up the requisite amount of paid leave to fulfill the 12 weeks without disrupting their pay. This reality, they say, turns young talent away from the federal sector and into private employment where many companies already offer a paid parental leave benefit. Were such a benefit to be signed into law, young talent would be more inclined to remain with or join the federal workforce.
“Americans tend to think that federal workers have great benefits, and for the most part that is true,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “But for young federal employees that want to start a family, the federal sector’s policy comes up short. These workers are often forced choose between caring for their child and getting a paycheck. We think there is a better way of doing business.”
Furthermore, supporters of the legislation argue that a parental leave benefit would improve employee retention, saving $50 million in annual costs by reducing the turnover expenses associated with backfilling positions vacated by expecting parents seeking employment elsewhere.
“This is a benefit that makes good business sense because it is a relatively inexpensive way to retain talent,” explains Erwin. “The federal government spends enormous sums each year to recruit new hires to the civil service. A modest benefit like a few weeks of paid parental leave can make a big difference in keeping these sizable turnover expenses down.”