|Sponsor||Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B.|
|Committee||Oversight and Government Reform|
|Date||June 4, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)|
|Staff Contact||Sarah Makin|
H.R. 626 is being considered on the floor under a structured rule, H.Res 501, which makes three amendments in order. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-MN) on January 22, 2009.
The Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted by Congress in 1993, and allows employees who have worked for eligible employers for 12 months to take twelve weeks of unpaid leave for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child or to care for their own or an immediate family member's serious health condition.
H.R. 626 provides Federal employees with four weeks of paid parental leave under FMLA for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. The bill also allows the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to increase the amount of paid parental leave available to employees to up to eight weeks based on the consideration of: (1) the benefits to the federal government, including enhanced recruitment and employee retention; (2) the cost to the government; (3) trends in the private sector and in state and local governments; and (4) the federal government's role as a model employer.
The bill also amends the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to allow the same benefit for congressional employees, Government Accountability Office (GAO) employees, and Library of Congress employees.
In 1993, Congress enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act (P.L. 103-3, FMLA) which entitles eligible employees at certain employers to a minimum of twelve weeks of leave without pay during a twelve month period. Individuals can take FMLA leave for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child, to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or to care for their own serious health condition. FMLA leave does not have to be taken in consecutive weeks.
Currently, a Federal employee who has worked for the federal government for 12 months is entitled to twelve weeks of FMLA unpaid leave. If employees want to be paid for time they take off, they may substitute paid vacation and sick leave for time taken off under FMLA.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, "CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 626 would cost $67 million in 2010, and a total of $938 million over the 2010-2014 period, subject to appropriation of the necessary funds." This is a total of nearly $1 billion over a five year period.
Members may be concerned that this bill would provide a costly, unnecessary, new paid leave entitlement for already well compensated Federal employees-yet another cost to be levied by the taxpayer. Currently, Federal employee's benefits are far more generous than those in the private sector. For example, federal employees receive approximately two-thirds more in benefits, and one-quarter more in pay compared to the private sector. Some Members might be concerned that while hard workers in the private sector are being forced to make sacrifices and cutbacks, this bill extends paid benefits to Federal employees.
The bill would also significantly increase costs for agencies to fund the new entitlement. Furthermore, Members may be concerned that this legislation could set a precedent for Congress to expand similar paid benefits to the private sector in the future. For instance, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the nation's largest small business advocate, is opposed to the legislation on the grounds that it "sets a precedent for future discussions over expansion of FMLA." NFIB's letter notes that the legislation does not require employees to use accumulated sick or vacation days, which could establish a model for costly new paid leave mandates on struggling small businesses.
1) Issa (R-CA): Prohibits any employee from using any parental paid leave provided in the legislation until that employee uses all of their accrued paid leave. In addition, the amendment requires that all paid parental leave be treated as an advance and be subject to repayment in the same manner as any other paid leave.
2) Al Green (D-TX): Requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), when promulgating regulations to increase paid parental leave, to consider the impact on lower-income and economically disadvantaged employees and their children.
3) Bright (D-AL): Stipulates that federal employees who are called into service in the National Guard or Reserve may count the time of their military service toward their total time of federal employment for the purposes of receiving paid parental leave under the legislation.