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Schatz, Beyer Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation To Provide Paid Family And Medical Leave For Federal Employees

Under Current Law, Federal Workers Who Take Leave To Care For Their Own Health Or A Loved One Are Left Without Pay

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.) today reintroduced the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act, bipartisan legislation to expand federal paid leave to include 12 weeks of family and medical leave. Schatz’s Senate bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.). Beyer’s House bill is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.). 

“Right now, our laws are still forcing federal workers to make the impossible choice between caring for their families and keeping their jobs,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill will provide federal workers with 12 weeks of paid leave, giving them the time they need to take care of their own health and their loved ones.”

“As the representative of the district with the largest number of federal employees in the country, I am conscious of the tremendous amount of good it would do for our region to provide comprehensive paid family and medical leave to the federal workforce. But every district has federal workers, and the benefits of this legislation would be felt across the country,” said Congressman Beyer. “We were able to achieve a major expansion of paid parental leave for federal workers, but we still have more to do. This basic benefit for workers is even more crucial in the age of Covid, but the United States still lags the rest of the world in securing guaranteed paid leave for its full workforce. As we advance this bill, which I am very proud to note is bipartisan, I will continue to work with members of both parties in pursuit of guaranteed paid leave for all American workers.”

“No parent should have to choose between taking care of their family or keeping their job,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “This bipartisan legislation would allow federal employees to take up to 26 weeks of medical and family leave, giving workers the opportunity to care for loved ones without worrying about job security or making ends meet. I’m proud to lead on this issue and to introduce this important legislation with Representatives Beyer and Houlahan today.”

“I was proud to help lead the charge in securing paid parental leave for our federal employees in 2020. This important bipartisan bill builds on that effort and ensures that caring for a family member doesn’t preclude access to one’s pay checks,” said Representative Houlahan. “As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Federal and Medical Leave Act, federal workers should no longer be forced to choose between making ends meet and caregiving. I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this commonsense bill become law.”

Currently, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees in the private sector can take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a newborn or an ill family member without fear of losing their jobs, but that leave is unpaid. For federal employees, while parental leave is paid due to the passage of Senator Schatz’s Federal Employee Paid Leave Act in 2019, family and medical leave continues to be unpaid.

Studies have shown that providing paid leave for federal employees would save the government at least $50 million annually in turnover and replacement costs. With federal agencies struggling to recruit and retain young talent, family-friendly policies are necessary to maintain a robust workforce. Just six percent of the federal workforce is under the age of 30, while roughly 40 percent of the workforce is eligible to retire within the next three years.

The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act will guarantee 12 weeks of paid family leave for federal employees in all instances covered by the FMLA. Specifically, the bill guarantees 12 weeks of paid leave in the following cases:

  • In order to care for the spouse, child, or parent of the employee, if such spouse, child, or parent has a serious health condition;
  • Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position; and
  • Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, child, or parent of the employee is on covered active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty) in the Armed Forces.

“AFGE applauds Senator Schatz and Representative Beyer for reintroducing the Comprehensive Paid Family Leave Act to deliver 12 weeks of paid family leave for federal workers. No worker should have to choose between a paycheck and safely recovering from an illness or caring for a sick loved one.  The federal government has implicitly acknowledged this fact by reimbursing federal contractors and grantees for the cost of providing paid family leave to their workers. Providing the same benefit to direct federal employees is not only the right thing to do, it will ultimately be more cost-efficient than replacing federal employees who leave for the private sector due to substandard benefits, taking with them expertise and institutional knowledge,” said Everett Kelley, National President, American Federation of Government Employees.


“The paid family leave legislation introduced today by Sen. Schatz and Rep. Beyer would be life-changing for federal employees around the country. Time and again we hear from our members who are dealing with a long-term medical issue in their families that drain their sick and annual leave, causing them financial hardship and additional stress that only compounds the crisis. The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act is exactly the kind of benefit that treats federal employees with respect and helps agencies recruit the next generation of public servants, which is why NTEU strongly supports this bill,” said Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union.

“Our nation’s federal workers do the important work of keeping our government running and should also be able to do the important work of providing care,” said Sharita Gruberg, vice president for economic justice at the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Caregiving is parental leave, but it is also taking a chronically ill loved one to doctor’s appointments or taking time off to recover from a respiratory illness. Thank you to Senator Schatz, Congressman Beyer, Congresswoman Houlahan, and Congressman Fitzpatrick for the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act – the next step toward passage of a paid leave policy passed for every worker in this country.”

The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act is supported by the American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, National Federation of Federal Employees, NARFE, AAUW, National Association of Letter Carriers, American Postal Workers Union, and the National Partnership for Women and Families.