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House Subcommittee Approves Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees

On March 25, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia approved, by voice vote, H.R. 626, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2009. The House passed the bill in the 110th Congress (see The Source, 6/20/08).

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), would allow federal employees to be paid for four of the 12 weeks of parental leave to which they are entitled under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (P.L. 103-3). The legislation also would permit federal employees to use any accrued sick leave for parental leave.

Rep. Maloney stated, “Often [it is] the federal government that leads the country…the federal government is the largest employer in the U.S., but it lags behind the private sector” in regards to paid parental leave. Rep. Maloney also noted the prevalence of paid parental leave worldwide, saying, “163 countries guarantee paid leave…[but] the U.S. does not. We are tied with Swaziland, Lesotho, and Liberia in terms of the support we give to working families.”

Chair Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said, “During the last Congress, Rep. Maloney introduced H.R. 5871, which provided eight weeks of paid parental leave. As a compromise, the bill was amended in the full committee to provide four weeks of paid parental leave…While unpaid leave [has] helped millions of families, many employees have been unable to take time off to care for a new child…because they cannot afford to forgo the pay. The need for this legislation is particularly timely…When we pass H.R. 626, over 1.8 million workers in the United States will have the right to paid parental leave, and we will be setting a standard for the rest of the nation to follow while both helping families to cope and stimulate the economy.”

Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) stated, “As a supporter of the bill last year, I’m glad to see this come before us…I see this as setting an example. We have the right to pass this legislation because we will bear the responsibility to pay” for paid parental leave.

Noting his opposition to the bill and saying that it would “be more appropriate to have a hearing,” Ranking Member Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said, “We have a number of concerns and challenges facing us.” Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) stated, “We shouldn’t be more generous to federal employees than [we are] to most Americans,” adding that he did not agree with “[being] generous with taxpayer money to [benefit] federal employees.”

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