Backers argue satisfaction with family-friendly policies such as paid leave has been shown to reduce turnover intention by 37.5 percent.

Allowing paid family leave for federal employees would help address federal agencies’ problems with recruiting and retaining employees, a coalition of federal employee unions and other groups that support such leave has said in a letter to senators.

The groups are urging the Senate to accept, in ongoing negotiations over a defense bill, House-passed language to change from unpaid to paid the maximum 12 weeks per 12 months that federal employees can take under the Family and Medical Leave Act. That covers various parental purposes as well as certain medical situations involving the employee or close family members.


Just before taking a recess that ended this week, the Senate voted against that provision by 48-47, but four Democrats who would have voted in favor of it were absent. The letter essentially makes a business case argument for accepting it, in addition to the health related benefits.

“Paid leave helps reduce turnover, which is estimated to cost between 16 and 200 percent of a worker’s annual salary,” the letter says. “An increase in satisfaction with family-friendly policies has been shown to reduce turnover intention by 37.5 percent in federal agencies. Further, paid family and medical leave is key to the federal government’s competitiveness as more top companies introduce new or expanded paid leave policies.”