Bipartisan Deal Includes Schatz Legislation Providing Paid Parental Leave For 2 Million Federal Workers Across The Country

Schatz’s Provision Will Provide Federal Workers With 12 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave; Under Current Law, Federal Workers Who Take Leave to Care For A New Child Are Left Without Pay

WASHINGTON – Today, congressional leaders released the details of the annual defense authorization bill, which includes a provision authored by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) that will provide 2 million federal workers with 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child after birth, adoption, or the initiation of foster care. At introduction, Schatz’s provision was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

“If this is enacted, it will mean that public servants won’t have to make the impossible choice of getting a paycheck or taking care of their children,” said Senator Schatz. “This is a big win for unions and the more than 2 million federal workers who serve our country every day.”

Although the current Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care of a new child, it does not provide any paid leave.

“For too many Americans, hard work doesn’t pay off. If we truly value the dignity of work, we need to recognize that paid family leave is something all workers should have the opportunity to earn,” said Senator Brown. “I’m glad to see the paid parental leave provision included in the defense authorization bill. This is an important step for federal employees, as we continue to invest in our workforce and ensure that hard work is rewarded for all workers.”

“We have been fighting for years to provide paid family leave to workers throughout the country. With this agreement, the federal government will finally start to lead by example – providing paid parental leave to its workforce. We will continue fighting until all working families around the nation receive paid family and medical leave benefits,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Federal workers dedicate their careers to helping keep America running,” said Senator Merkley. “I’m pleased that this year’s NDAA will include a critical provision to give them the paid leave they need to be there for their families during life’s important moments. This is a major step towards an America where every worker has access to paid family leave, and I urge all of my colleagues to join us in that fight.”

Studies have shown that providing paid leave for federal employees would save the government at least $50 million annually in turnover and replacement costs. Federal agencies are already struggling to recruit and retain young talent. Just 6 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.

Schatz’s provision is supported by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), the Federal-Postal Coalition, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

“AFGE has been fighting to provide all federal workers with paid family leave for decades, and the provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act is a large step in the right direction for full family leave. The hard work by our members is finally beginning to pay off. This new paid benefit will help federal employees better balance their work and home lives, and it will give agencies a needed advantage when recruiting and retaining workers to carry out critical missions on behalf of our country,” said Everett Kelley, National Secretary-Treasurer of AFGE. “I want to thank Senator Brian Schatz of Hawai‘i and Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York for their leadership and tireless efforts to reach consensus on this important issue.”

“Federal employees are incredibly grateful for the leadership of Sen. Schatz on the critical issue of paid parental leave,” said Tony Reardon, President of NTEU. “This program will strengthen the federal workforce by providing our country’s employees with the time they need to welcome new members of the family and the ability to return to work knowing their family has been cared for. NTEU members have repeatedly asked Congress for paid parental leave and Sen. Schatz is a powerful ally in bringing this program to fruition.”

“I know firsthand how much this policy will benefit women of color. After graduating from high school in my hometown of Honolulu, Hawai‘i, I got the exciting opportunity to be a public servant and join the government as a GS-1. I went on to have a long career in the federal government that would forever shape my life. This benefit will improve the economic security of federal employees who need time to bond with and care for new children. And while we celebrate today’s victory, we continue to call on Congress to pass comprehensive paid family and medical leave for all working people,” said Erika Moritsugu, Vice President for Economic Justice at the National Partnership for Women & Families.