The United States is one of the few countries that does not guarantee paid family leave for all employees. While many top private sector companies voluntarily provide paid leave for family care, the federal government continues to lag behind. Each year, politicians from both sides of the aisle have attempted to remedy this, without success. This month, a New York Representative (Maloney, D-N.Y.) introduced new legislation, The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, that would entitle all federal employees to twelve weeks of paid family leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child, or for the care of a close relative with a serious health condition.
Currently, the United States’ 2 million federal employees are not provided any paid long-term family and medical leave. This means that employees must use their accrued sick leave, or take unpaid leave. Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees are entitled to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a sick spouse, child or parent. However, this is a serious financial strain and often times not a feasible option for many employees.
With the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, federal employees would finally be guaranteed paid leave, something that has been universally provided around the world for many years. The proposed legislation would allow federal employees to receive their normal pay during their 12 weeks of FMLA leave. Importantly, this bill is gender neutral, meaning that both men and women will be able to take this paid leave.
Paid family leave has been proven to enhance the recruitment of young professionals, reduce turnover, and improve employee morale; all of which will lead to greater employee productivity. Paid leave will likely lower government costs because the government will be able to retain employees for longer, thereby reducing training costs and attracting valuable young workers in an aging workforce. Despite these proven benefits, the legislation is now in the hands of Congress, who must decide whether to push this bill forward. With 12 co-sponsors, and some potential presidential interest in paid leave, there is a strong opportunity to garner serious support for this bill. Only time will tell whether the federal government is ready to join the rest of the world in guaranteeing paid leave to all employees.
If you have questions about Family and Medical Leave, visit our website to schedule a consultation or call us at (202) 463-6036. Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C. has over two decades of experience working with private-sector and federal government employees in the areas of medical leave and disability rights.