FMLA Articles

The paid leave trend flows onto federal landscape


Key to remember: Federal government paid leave could lead to a national paid leave law

Applies to: Federal government workers, currently, other employers potentially

Impact to customers: Employers need to stay on top of trends in paid leave. They are not required to do anything right now, but this change can help move the needle on paid leave.

Possible impact to JJK products and services: The Essentials of FMLA will have general information on this at the next update (May), and this news article will be posted on the Leave Manager.

Beginning October 1, 2020, federal employees may likely be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a new child. The provision is part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020, which means the measure would need to pass if the U.S. is to continue funding the military, which is kind of important.

Employees would be eligible to take the paid parental leave if they have worked for the government for at least 12 months before the leave. Before the leave begins, the employee must also agree in writing to continue working for the government for at least 12 weeks after the leave ends. This requirement must, however, be waived if the employee is unable to return to work because of the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition (including mental health), related to the birth or placement of a child, of the employee or the child.

Other provisions of the measure include the following:

  • Employees do not need to exhaust FMLA leave before using paid parental leave. 
  • The paid parental leave is not considered to be annual or vacation leave. 
  • Paid parental leave does not accumulate or roll over into subsequent years. 
  • The 12-month period is the same as those under the FMLA. 
  • The leave is not available for reasons such as the employee’s own condition or that of a family member’s. 

The law has gone through both the House and the Senate and members of Congress are currently working out the details.

The federal workforce includes 2.1 million employees.

To add to the pressure, The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of America’s leading companies group of CEOs, recently sent a request to Capitol Hill to enact a federal paid family and medical leave law — another sign of the continuing trend.

Employers outside the federal government may need to up their game to remain competitive in an already competitive environment. The passing of this provision would beg the question as to whether this is the beginning of the movement toward a federal paid leave law for workers outside the federal government. Since the federal government hasn’t seen such a bill cross the finish line, states have taken up the mantel and have been passing paid leave for sickness, family care, and even for any reason whatsoever (what’s up, Nevada?). Still, however, the federal government has yet to move this needle, but employers need to stay up-to-date on such trends to stay ahead of the curve.

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The J. J. Keller LEAVE MANAGER service is your business resource for tracking employee leave and ensuring compliance with the latest Federal and State FMLA and leave requirements.