Friday, June 20, 2008

Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave - Walberg Votes No

On June 19, 2008, the Battle Creek Enquirer ran a letter to the editor:
The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (H.R. 5781). This important legislation will provide federal workers up to four weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, and will be a good first step toward paid paternal leave for all American families.

Urge Rep. Tim Walberg to vote "yes" on H.R. 5781 when it is voted on shortly. You can contact him through his web site:
The letter, from Linda Lumley, public policy chair of the Battle Creek branch of the American Association of University Women, goes on to explain why this is important-- namely, that the United States is one of the only industrialized countries that doesn't offer paid parental leave. While federal employees are guaranteed unpaid leave, many can't afford to do that. brings us this summary of the bill, from the Congressional Research Service:
Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2008 - Allows federal employees to substitute any available paid leave for any leave without pay available for either the: (1) birth of a child; or (2) placement of a child with the employee for either adoption or foster care. Makes available for any of the 12 weeks of leave an employee is entitled to for such purposes: (1) four administrative weeks of paid parental leave in connection with the birth or placement involved; and (2) any accumulated annual or sick leave.
Authorizes the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to increase the amount of paid parental leave available to up to eight administrative workweeks, based on the consideration of: (1) the benefits provided to the federal government of offering paid parental leave, including enhanced recruitment and retention of employees; (2) the cost to the federal government of increasing the amount of paid parental leave that is available to employees; (3) trends in the private sector and in state and local governments with respect to offering paid parental leave; and (4) the federal government's role as a model employer.
Note that this only applies to federal employees, but recognizes trends in the private sector of doing the same thing. And it makes sense, too; if you've just had a child, you can't work right away, but you're going to need something to survive on. You can read the full text of the bill here. The bill is anticipated to cost less than a dollar per American in 2009.

Unfortunately, Ms. Lumley's letter came a little too late, because the House voted on the final passage of the bill the same day that the letter was published.

HR 5781, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, was passed, by a vote of 277 to 146. Joining the Democratic majority were 50 Republicans, including Michigan's Fred Upton, Candice Miller, and Thad McCotter.

Congressman Tim Walberg voted No.

Just to be clear again, this isn't the federal government issuing some broad mandate and interfering with how private business is being run. This is the federal government offering paid parental leave to its own employees that most private businesses already offer. If Republicans want the federal government to be run more like a business, why not let it offer the same incentives businesses offer to attract good employees?

This is good policy and will help a lot of people. It's no wonder that Tim Walberg opposes it.

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