The United States is the only developed country in the world that does
not offer paid parental leave to its federal workforce. Offering paid
parental leave -- of the kind customarily offered by leading private sector
companies and many, many industrialized nations – has the goal of
recruiting and retaining top talent, lowering the costs of employee turnover,
increasing employee morale and engagement, and helping create a diverse
and inclusive workplace.
According to the White House, for example, offering paid maternity leave
has been shown to increase the likelihood that mothers return to their
jobs following the birth of a child. This is no small advantage, as the
cost of replacing an employee has been estimated to range from 50% of
the employee’s salary for a low-skilled worker, to 200% of salary
for a higher-paid professional. Similarly, paid maternity and paternity
leave has been shown to improve the health and development outcomes for infants.
In an attempt to rectify this gap, last month the President issued a memorandum
to the heads of U.S. federal government executive departments and agencies
on modernizing federal leave policies. The memorandum directs federal
agencies to offer their employees 240 hours of advanced sick leave, “irrespective
of existing leave balances,” at the request of an employee and in
appropriate circumstances, in connection with the birth or adoption of
a child, or any other eligible uses for sick leave. The agencies must
also ensure that their policies offer the maximum leave permitted by law
for bonding with a healthy newborn or newly-adopted child, or when a foster
child has been placed in their home.
The memorandum also directs agencies to review their policies with respect
to leave for other birth-related reasons; Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) leave; and break times and private space for nursing mothers.
Debra A. D’Agostino, Founding Partner of The Federal Practice Group
Worldwide Service and head of its Federal Employment practice, said, “The
hard-working employees of our U.S. federal government are entitled to
the same benefits as their colleagues in the private sector. It is important
that they attain parity so the government can attract and retain the best-qualified
people to operate and manage our governmental functions efficiently and
productively in times of increasing budgetary constraints.”
By April 15, 2015, the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”)
is required to issue guidance to the agencies about how to implement their
advanced sick and annual leave policies, including their application to
part-time employees. Thereafter, the agencies must change their policies
no later than January 1, 2016 to comply with the President’s memorandum.
The rights of federal employees are governed by a vast set of statutes,
regulations, policies, and procedures that are constantly changing. Laws
concerning the leave, benefits, discipline, pay, and retirement of U.S.
federal government employees’ are significantly different than those
covering private sector employees. It is important for U.S. federal government
employees facing job-related legal challenges to have an employment attorney
who understands the complex laws governing this area. The federal employment
attorneys at The Federal Practice Group Worldwide Service have decades
of experience handling federal employee issues. They are experienced practitioners,
appearing in cases before the EEOC, MSPB, DOHA, and more.
If you are a U.S. federal government employee facing legal problems relating
to your pay, retirement, performance, leave, or benefits, contact The
Federal Practice Group Worldwide Service today to arrange for a case evaluation.