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Public Statements

Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2008

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


FEDERAL EMPLOYEES PAID PARENTAL LEAVE ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - June 19, 2008)

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Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of H.R. 5781, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2008, which was introduced by our colleague Congresswoman CAROLYN MALONEY on April 14, 2008. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia, I am proud to serve as an original cosponsor of this bill, along with 21 other Members of Congress.

H.R. 5781 takes an important step in improving the Federal Government's ability to recruit and retain a highly qualified workforce by providing paid parental leave to Federal and congressional employees for the birth, adoption or placement of a child for foster care, which is a benefit that is extended to most employees in the private sector as well as to government employees in other countries.

In considering H.R. 5781, the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia marked up the bill on April 15, 2008, and favorably recommended the measure to the Full Committee on Oversight and Government Reform after adopting an amendment offered by Committee Chairman HENRY WAXMAN that would permit only 4 weeks of paid parental leave instead of the 8 weeks included in the bill as introduced. The full committee then held a markup on H.R. 5781 on April 16, 2008, and ordered the bill to be reported to the floor, as amended, by a roll call vote of 21-10.

During the consideration of H.R. 5781, I had asked that language be included in the bill directing the Government Accountability Office to study the feasibility of providing a disability insurance benefit to Federal employees who had to take time off to care for a spouse, child or parent that has a serious health condition or for a Federal employee that has a serious health condition that renders him or her unable to perform their job functions. While the manager's amendment that we will be discussing later on removes this provision from the bill, I am happy to report that at my request GAO has agreed to perform a study that will analyze disability insurance benefits that are currently being offered by States, local governments and the private sector.

The bill being considered today will allow all Federal and congressional employees to receive 4 weeks of paid leave taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act for the birth, adoption or placement of a foster child. As many of my colleagues are aware, the current FMLA statute provides Federal workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth, adoption or placement of a foster child with an employee.

Mr. Speaker, the bill before us does nothing more than permit Federal employees to receive paid leave for 4 out of the 12 weeks if the leave is connected to the birth, adoption or placement of a foster child, and to use accrued sick or annual leave, if available, for the remaining 8 weeks. Let us be clear: This bill currently being considered does not provide Federal workers any additional time nor expand beyond the 12 weeks given under the current law.

The bill before us has also been strengthened by granting the Director of the Office of Personnel Management the authority to increase paid parental leave from 4 weeks to 8 weeks after considering a thorough cost and benefit analysis.

Parental leave is a pertinent concern around the world, and, unfortunately, America is lagging behind in offering paid leave for parents. The governments of 168 countries offer guaranteed paid leave to their female employees in connection with childbirth. Ninety-eight of these countries offer 14 or more weeks paid leave. Currently the Federal Government as an employer guarantees no paid leave.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I again reiterate my support for H.R. 5781, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2008, and urge my colleagues to join me in voting in favor of this measure.

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