Fedweek

As part of the budget “reconciliation” bill being crafted in the House, the Ways and Means Committee has approved a paid leave provision that would apply to federal employees along with most other workers.

That could prove to be an alternative means for expanding paid leave for federal employees that earlier advanced as a separate bill through the House Oversight and Reform Committee. That bill, HR-564, would allow all federal employees to take paid leave for all purposes the Family and Medical Leave Act provides unpaid leave, building on the current authority for non-postal federal employees to take paid leave for parental purposes. However, the Congressional Budget has estimated a cost to non-postal agencies of more than $16 billion over five years and a cost to the self-funding USPS of $8.5 billion over 10 years.

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The Ways and Means language would create a fund for up to 12 weeks over 12 months of paid leave for similar purposes that on average would pay two-thirds of an employee’s current salary. Lower-income workers would receive as much as 85 percent of income replacement, up to about $1,200 a week.

Non-postal federal employees would not want to use that benefit for parental purposes since their paid parental leave benefit pays full salary, but they could use it for the other purposes if HR-564 is not enacted into law. Postal employees could use it for both parental and other purposes.

The fate of the reconciliation bill also is in doubt, however. Democratic leaders are pushing for quick action, although in the face of unanimous opposition from Republicans and reservations among some Democrats about the projected $3.5 trillion cost over 10 years.

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