Amid rancor, paid family leave advances

A bill that would provide federal employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave each year advanced in committee this week. 

On July 20, the House Oversight and Reform Committee voted—on strictly partisan lines 24-to-16—to send the legislation to the House floor for a vote. The contentiousness was expected, and reflected months of previous wrangling over the bill. 

Currently, such long stints of paid family leave for feds are limited—specifically, under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) of 2019, feds are covered only for the birth, adoption and caring for a new child. 

The new legislation, dubbed the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act (CPLFEA), has been sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) It would not only lock in greatly expanded paid leave for civil service feds, it would also add hundreds of thousands of Postal Service employees under the umbrella of the law. CPLFEA would add a range of non-child care situations qualifying for paid family leave.

Feds currently have FEPLA (and of course sick leave and annual leave) as benefits. The proposed legislation, pursuing aims outlined in President Biden's American Families Plan, would expand eligible paid family leave circumstances to include long-term personal illness, caring for sick family members or to manage when a family member is put on active duty in the military services.

The hearing was marked by sharp disagreement and division along party lines—with Republican members questioning, most fundamentally, the need for any additional leave time for federal employees.

Beyond the question of need, some minority members took issue with introduction of previously unreleased, and preliminary, Congressional Budget Office cost estimates associated with the benefit. The objections ranged from judging the cost estimates to be unrealistically low to claims that, prior to the public hearing, the majority alone were privy to the CBO documents.

The minority's objections, and the majority’s responses, are discussed in greater detail in reports from Federal News Network and GovExec

Reader comments

Tue, Jul 27, 2021

How do you care for veterans when an employee could be off 6 months to a year with this bill and than qualify for leave without pay. Employees can carry their leave over both annual and sick leave. There are employees who fail to plan and use their leave appropriately for family care and sickness. But than again we pay Congress and senate big salaries to work less than

Tue, Jul 27, 2021

Who takes care of our veterans in our VA clinics /hospital's if this bill passes? Employees already receive annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, family care, creating shortages of health care staffing. Employees can carry over sick leave and annual leave plus advanced sick leave. .Majority of employees fail to plan for future needs . Reflection of our leaders in Congress and Senate who might work 160 days a year. Government needs to focus on the private sector where few benefits are afforded and no one gets the 13 paid holidays a year.

Thu, Jul 22, 2021

This is an important bill, and to those who say feds have enough leave, it's not so for certain challenges. And having this pass for feds will be a good precedent for some companies in corporate America that still lag on this. And to help a discussion about making it for more medium sized companies and getting this to become an economic and job norm in this country as it is in other developed countries.

Wed, Jul 21, 2021

The minority had no problem with the cost of tax cuts for the rich and multi-national corps but when it comes to help for regular folks they balk. Hypocritical me thinks.

Wed, Jul 21, 2021

Can't imagine taxpayers wanting to pay for it when they already have annual and sick leave. Why not just extend the annual and/or sick leave.

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2021 Digital Almanac

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