Feds nearly certain to get 12 weeks paid leave

Federal employees across the government are finally lined up to gain a long-awaited benefit: decent paid parental leave. 

Congress passed the provision in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act—one which will provide 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and specifically cover needed time for employees with a new birth or adoption, or with a new foster child. 

Originally—in the early days of the provision—thought to apply in only a more limited sweep of employees, in the end the provision as written should provide the benefit to a wide berth of federal employees. 

Federal employee unions spearheaded the pressure that led to the agreement—concluded at the end of last week from administration officials and lawmakers—to broaden the measure. 

The American Federation of Government Employees, a key participant, expressed deep support for the move. 

“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,” National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley said in a press release. 

“The hard work by our members is finally beginning to pay off,” Kelley said. “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,” he continued. “This agreement is a watershed moment that sets the stage for achieving the ultimate goal of providing all American workers with paid family leave.

The National Federation of Federal Employees spoke out in equally celebratory terms.

“Congress after Congress, we pushed for a reasonable benefit to help federal workers care for their families in times of need,” Randy Erwin, NFFE National President, said in a press release. “Parental Leave was a priority during our legislative weeks, and our persistence paid off.” 

Union backers expect the provision to remain in the bill, pass and get the president’s signature in the next week or so. 

Reader comments

Thu, Jan 2, 2020 Antron Maryland

I, for one, am thrilled. I have diligently saved up over 450+ hours of sick leave and have 240 hours of annual leave (cap) at the beginning of each year, while accruing 8 hours each pay period. I don't have any kids yet, but was planning to start this year. Definitely going to plan to deliver AFTER October 2020!!! So I can save all my leave!!! Thank you God for favor and blessings!!! This is amazing news!!!

Thu, Dec 12, 2019

Two decades ago, I diligently saved sick and annual leave for several years so that I could take a decent maternity leave. This is not inequity; this is progress. The Federal government is simply coming into line with the benefits other large institutional employers offer.

Wed, Dec 11, 2019

We are expecting our first in March; but I think it doesn’t start until October 1, so it won’t help us.

Wed, Dec 11, 2019

Whoo, the sour grapes! Yes, I too saved my leave to be able to use it for childbirth and care in the first few critical months. But I don't begrudge others the opportunity to not have to use every last bit of leave to be able to recover and bond! Good for them. And the idea that this isn't a victory for all federal employees is rubbish...it's a benefit that all may use. You may choose not to use it by not having or adopting children.

Wed, Dec 11, 2019

Many feds may not know that employees are not entitled to use sick leave to care for a newborn unless you physically gave birth to that child or are the spouse of the person who did. Adoptive parents are required to use annual leave and leave without pay to care for the child(ren). In my case, my twins were premature; feeding & diaper changing took 2 hours repeated every 3 hours. I was full up on annual leave at their birth, but still relied upon LWOP to get through the first months of their lives.

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