Legislation newly offered in the House would broaden federal employee paid leave entitlements for personal or family medical conditions in addition to regular sick leave.
The bill is a followup to the change in law that allowed for paid time as a substitute for unpaid time under the Family and Medical Leave Act. That now allows for up to 12 weeks of paid time over 12 months following the birth or adoptive or foster placement of a child.
Under the new bill, the 12-week within 12 months limit would remain but employees also could use it for the other reasons for which unpaid FMLA time is allowed: to care for an ill spouse, child, or parent; to care for a serious personal medical condition; or any qualifying circumstance resulting from a spouse, child, or parent who is designated or soon to be designated to be active duty military.
The measure is virtually guaranteed serious consideration in the House at least, since among others it is sponsored by the chairs of the Appropriations, Oversight and Reform, and Armed Services committees. That last one might be especially important since the paid parental leave benefit was created as an amendment to the fiscal 2020 DoD authorization bill, passed in December of 2019.
That bill also was the vehicle for a change in that benefit enacted a year later, making eligible most employees who had been left out of the authority at first because they do not fall under Title 5 personnel rules. In both cases the House had initially passed the language and the Senate—which hadn’t—accepted it in a conference that produced the final bill.
Even under that revision, though, USPS employees are not eligible for the paid parental leave. The new bill is structured that they would be eligible for paid leave under all the same terms as other federal employees, according to sponsors.