January 19, 2021

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January 18, 2021

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Paid Parental Leave May Be Coming For Federal Workers

Congress is close to passing the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which would provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn or adopted child. According to NBC News, if passed, this bill would potentially provide paid leave to 2.1 million federal workers.

This family leave provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July. Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has championed the bill in the Senate and there has been support for paid parental leave on both sides of the aisle. Although POLITICO reports that some Senate Republicans have resisted the bill, it has been a key part of Ivanka Trump’s agenda and President Trump has been an outspoken advocate for its passage. Although the bill is currently in conference and the details are not yet finalized, there appears to be a favorable chance that the bill will be passed.

While covered federal workers have had access to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, this would be the first time they are granted paid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child. The passage of a broad family leave law for federal employees could one day influence Congress’ position on a similar law for private employers.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States is the only country in the developed world that does not require employers to offer paid leave for new mothers. Several states have implemented some degree of paid family leave legislation, and bills have been introduced at the federal level to expand access to paid family leave. However, the federal government has never passed a comprehensive paid family leave bill into law.

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 345



About this Author

Douglas Oldham Labor and Employment Law Attorney Barnes Thornburg Law Firm
Of Counsel

Douglas M. Oldham is of counsel in the Columbus and Chicago offices of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department.

Mr. Oldham has represented employers in employment discrimination litigation since entering the firm in 2004. He has accumulated significant labor and employment litigation experience throughout that time, including:

  • briefing numerous successful motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss, as well as copious nondispositive motions, in federal...