Fedweek

Language to extend the upcoming paid parental leave authority for federal employees has been approved by the House Armed Services Committee as it passed its version of the fiscal year 2021 DoD authorization bill (HR-6395).

Language in that defense spending bill would amend last year’s version, which changed from unpaid to paid, the up to 12 weeks per 12-month period of parental leave available under the Family and Medical Leave Act, effective with births, adoptions or foster placements after September 30 of this year.

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That provision applies only to employees under the standard Title 5 section of law, and it excludes tens of thousands of employees covered by other sections, mainly in the FAA, TSA and VA medical personnel (the VA has said it would extend that benefit to those personnel, however, and the law did specifically include TSA screeners, although not other TSA employees).

The measure further would limit the DoD’s discretion to exclude certain categories of employees from bargaining rights on national security grounds (many intelligence-related positions already are excluded, for example) and would align the GS and wage grade locality pay systems so that more employees in the latter would be included in higher-paid metro areas.

The Senate version of the bill (S-4049) does not contain similar counterpart provisions to the House bill, however it does have provisions not in the House bill on various hiring and pay authorities that apply in limited situations.

Both chambers could vote before the congressional August recess and the measure could be enacted as soon as September, ahead of a recess for the elections.

Meanwhile the House has passed as part of an infrastructure bill (HR-2) language to put TSA screeners in the standard Title 5 body of federal personnel law, moving them into the GS pay system—with a guarantee of no reduction in pay and a projection that many would receive raises—and giving them the same collective bargaining rights and MSPB appeal rights as federal employees in general.

The House previously had passed similar language in a separate bill (HR-1140) that the White House has threatened to veto. That bill also includes a $25 billion subsidy for the Postal Service for infrastructure improvements.

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