Federal Workers to Receive Paid Parental Leave

Beginning October 2020, the United States’ largest employer, the federal government, is poised to provide paid parental leave to its more than 2 million employees. The provisions, contained within the larger National Defense Authorization Act, have the potential for broader implications in the landscape of employee benefits. Previously passed by the House, Senate Bill 1790 was approved by the Senate on December 17 and now heads to the president’s desk. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.

The bill converts the existing 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave that can be taken for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child to a paid leave of absence.  Employees can elect, but cannot be required, to substitute any other leave available for the same purpose. Once the law is effective, federal employees will be able to claim the benefit if they have worked for the government for a year.

Though the law only directly impacts the federal government, it is anticipated to have a ripple effect on other public and private employers and will likely accelerate states passing additional paid leave programs. The next decade could finally see the United States catching up with other countries when it comes to offering paid time off, whether it’s through the eventual passing of a federal paid family and medical leave law that impacts private employers or states and local government entities passing such laws.

Also notable and while not mandatory, SB 1790 provides that leave may be extended to 16 workweeks based on a consideration of the benefits of increasing leave, including increased employee recruitment and retention, the cost of increasing the leave, trends in paid leave in the public and private sector, the government’s role as a model employer, the impact of increased leave on lower-income and economically disadvantaged employees and their children, and other factors deemed necessary.

Last week I presented a Webinar along with my colleague, Megan Holstein which looked at how leave of absence interacts with other employment laws, a recording of which is available here.

FINEOS Absence supports federal, state, municipal, state-mandated and employer PFML plans. The FINEOS Integrated Disability and Absence Management (IDAM) solution brings together the robust FINEOS Absence, the market-leading FINEOS Claims and FINEOS Payments to develop a single book of record for all absence management related services, including workplace accommodations to facilitate stay-at-work and return-to-work.

If you’re ready to simplify the complex landscape of absence management, contact us at info@FINEOS.com.

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