Family leave options for federal employees

Under current Family and Medical Leave Act policy, signed by President Clinton, federal employees can take up to 12 weeks off to care for a new child, but that leave is unpaid.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., want to change that. They have vowed to work together on bills to make the federal government a better employer for families. Earlier this year, Maloney introduced the Federal Employee Paid Parental Leave Act, which she touted at the hearing as a way to boost the morale of the federal workforce.

Maloney has been fighting for paid parental leave for federal employees for 15 years, first introducing the measure in 2000. She was reinvigorated in her undertaking this year after President Obama called for the legislation in advance of his State of the Union address.

When Obama made his call for the bill in January, he also signed a presidential memorandum to allow new parents to use up to six weeks of paid sick leave to care for the child, even if the employees had not yet accrued that much time off. The Office of Personnel Management issued new guidance in support of that memo, requiring agencies to offer the benefit no later than last month on June 15th. OPM released a new handbook describing leave and workplace flexibilities available for parents involved in childbirth, adoption and foster care, as well as other flexibilities.

Note: all sick leave must be repaid. An employee who takes 13 days of advanced sick leave, for example, would have to go a full year without taking a single hour paid time off for medical reasons. Employees that are not expected to return to duty are not provided with advanced sick leave.

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