AFGE’s Push Leads to 12 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees

Categories: The Insider

Thanks to AFGE’s persistence, federal employees who are new parents are one step closer to receiving an important work/life benefit they have been waiting for years: 12 weeks of paid leave to take care of a new child.

The government-wide paid parental leave provision, which is included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would provide federal employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. This is the same benefit service members have received since 2016 under a separate military policy.

“AFGE has been fighting to provide all federal workers with paid family leave for decades, and the provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act is a large step in the right direction for full family leave. The hard work by our members is finally beginning to pay off,” said National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley. “This new paid benefit will help federal employees better balance their work and home lives, and it will give agencies a needed advantage when recruiting and retaining workers to carry out critical missions on behalf of our country.”

“The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer its citizens some level of paid parental leave. This agreement is a watershed moment that sets the stage for achieving the ultimate goal of providing all American workers with paid family leave,” he added.

AFGE thanks Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York for their leadership and tireless efforts to reach consensus on this important issue.

The NDAA will likely get a vote on the House floor this week. Under the bipartisan compromise, employees will only be able to use the paid leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child instead of the full range of FMLA covered issues.

The United States is the only developed country that does not offer nationwide paid parental leave. In Germany, all new mothers receive 43 weeks of paid parental leave. New Swedish moms receive 35 weeks of paid leave. Norwegian mothers are entitled to 45 weeks of paid leave.

In the U.S., more and more private-sector companies are picking up the slack. Twenty nine percent of private-sector employers in the U.S. choose to provide paid parental leave to their employees, up from 21% in 2016. Federal employees do not currently have paid parental leave. No federal employee should have to choose between a paycheck and meeting their family obligations because they currently have no paid parental leave. This provision will go a long way to attracting and keeping the workforce necessary to carry out its mission by providing benefits on par with other large employers, including federal contractors. The benefits to children and families of this provision are enormous and long-lasting.

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