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Paid Parental Leave Gets Obama's Blessing

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 5:16 p.m. ET

Supporters of paid parental leave for federal employees just picked up some big (though not unexpected) support from the White House. The Office of Management and Budget issued the following statement:

Being able to spend time at home with a new child is a critical part of building a strong family. The initial bonding between parents and their new child is essential to healthy child development and providing a firm foundation for the child’s success in life. Measures that support these relationships strengthen our families, our communities, and our nation. The Federal government should reflect its commitment to these core values by helping Federal employees to care for their families as well as serve the public. Providing paid parental leave has been successfully employed by a number of private-sector employers, and can help to make job opportunities accessible to more workers.
The Administration is currently reviewing existing Federal leave policies to determine the extent of their gaps and limitations. The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to refine the details of this legislation to make sure it meets the needs of Federal agencies and employees, as well as their families.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and has more than 50 co-sponsors. Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition to passing the legislation as millions of laid off Americans continue to struggle through the recession.

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 3, 2009; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Comments

I'm a federal employee AND am expecting a child. As much as this might benefit me, I cannot support this. Federal Employees get plenty of sick and annual leave that can be used for a new child. With 9 months to plan for the time off, we should be able to manage our existing time well enough that we do not need another (and surely costly) program for time off. It's also just another knock against single, childless, or older employees that won't derive any benefit from the new leave bank.

Posted by: Bailers | June 3, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Bailers! My own agency uses the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program for such cases, and I think it is ridiculous! When my daughter, also a Fed, had her two children, she made sure she had enough leave to cover the time spent at home with her newborns. Every employee should have to do the same. To compound the insult not only is not a good idea, it opens the door to abuse of the system and the price would be incredible. This is one presidential initiative that I do not support.

Posted by: pmaley | June 4, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with the previous posters. I saved up my leave knowing I was going to need it when I gave birth. I haven't been on a vacation in over 4 years and yet I've struggled to build up more than 4 weeks of leave now that I'm expecting my second child. Yes, we do get generous leave but it doesn't go as far as you'd think. Every time my kid gets sick I have to take leave and stay home with the child, and kids can get sick quite often. Doctors appointments take up another large chunk of leave as well. I've already had to use a few days of leave just to deal with doctor's appointments in my current pregnancy and I'm barely halfway through. The thing is, all of my firends and relatives who work in private industry have much more generous maternity leave (at least 4 weeks, most have 6 or 8), on top of their regular vacation and sick days so I do not see it as being unfair that the Federal Government cannot provide something similar.

Posted by: AnotherFed | June 4, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

The timing of this new benefit seems particularly inappropriate, given the recession and the high unemployment rates in the private sector, and it certainly isn't needed as an incentive for hiring. I have to wonder if the cost is going to come out of something else (like bonuses and promotions).

Posted by: WashingtonDame | June 4, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

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