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House Democrats seek paid leave for federal workers

Federal workers would be entitled to six weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child under legislation introduced Monday by several House Democrats – a long shot effort that comes a week after President Barack Obama called for the benefit for millions of Americans.

"Many private sector workers already enjoy paid parental and family leave, including at companies like Google, Bank of America, and Facebook," said Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Southern Maryland lawmaker and second-ranked Democrat in the House. "But workers and their families who do not have paid family are forced to use what few sick days and vacation days they have — and then take unpaid leave."

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Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat, was also an early supporter of the House legislation – and several other members of Maryland's congressional delegation are likely to sign on in coming days. The state is home to more than 300,000 federal workers, one of the highest concentrations in the nation.

The legislation — which has no Republican co-sponsors — follows an executive memorandum announced by Obama in Baltimore earlier this month that will allow federal employees to receive an advance of their sick time as paid leave. The bill would go further, granting paid leave to employees in addition to accrued sick time.

Federal employees, like many private sector workers, are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child and care of the newborn.

Several groups representing federal workers, including the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees endorsed the legislation in statements on Monday.

"The federal government already reimburses its contractors for the cost of paid parental leave," AFGE president J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement. "It's time for government to extend these benefits to its own employees and serve as a model that all employers should follow."

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