Civil service leaders in the House and the Trump administration are both moving to plug the gaps in the upcoming paid parental leave authority for federal employees, although with differing approaches.
A newly introduced bipartisan House bill (HR-5885) would — like one introduced earlier in the Senate (S-3104) — extend the entitlement to those left out due to what sponsors called an error of “statutory framing.”
The paid leave authority will replace the 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave currently available under the Family and Medical Leave Act within a 12-month period on the birth, adoption or foster child, effective for such events after September 30. However, it addressed only employees under the Title 5 section of civil service law, which covers most federal employees, but not those covered under other sections—except for TSA screeners who were included.
The House measure would extend the coverage to the remainder of TSA employees, all FAA employees, Title 38 medical personnel at the VA, certain other VA employees, employees of the Executive Office of the President and White House employees, and federal judges. (The VA has said that even without legislation, it would invoke separate authority to extend the benefit to its Title 38 personnel.) House leaders have said they hope to bring the measure to a vote there soon.
Meanwhile, the administration has released supplemental materials to its budget proposal of February 10.
Those materials call for a similar extension of the scope of the benefit but with some proposed changes in policy:
* Allowing the leave to be used only after the birth or placement of a child, which it said “would simplify administration, provide a reasonable limit on the amount of paid parental leave that may be used in connection with the birth/placement of a child, and be consistent with the objective of allowing parents to bond with a new child.”
* Limiting the amount available for foster care placements on grounds that some such placements are designed to last less than one year, “which undermines the justification for paid parental leave to allow for long-term bonding with a child.”
* Offsetting the 12 weeks with any paid parental leave provided under other authorities, potentially such as those already in effect at the SEC and FDIC.
* Having any type of federal employment count toward the requirement for 12 months of federal service before the leave can be used, not just service in a position in which standard annual and sick leave rules apply.
The administration did not issue full details, however. They would presumably come with a later formal legislative proposal to Congress.