Paid Parental Leave for Federal Workers

The House is scheduled to vote today on H.R. 626, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2009. The bill would provide four weeks of paid parental leave to federal employees. A similar bill passed the House last year, so passage is all-but-guaranteed. Jim Webb, who’s sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, has a fact sheet out that’s useful. When the bill moved through committee, The Washington Post covered conservatives objections, whereby basically the right doesn’t think it’s worth devoting any resources whatsoever into improving working conditions for federal employees. That makes sense if you put zero value on the ability of federal agencies to do perform their functions effectively, but not so much for the rest of us.

A larger issue, of course, is the general lack of paid parental leave in the United States. In most developed countries some form of paid leave is mandatory:

This is basically a recognition on the part of everyone from Japan to Norway to Canada that having a child isn’t just a random consumption choice that we should leave entirely up to the free market. Parents have a special social role to play, and it’s important to all of us to put them in a position to play it well. You might think that family values loving conservatives would see this as perhaps a bigger problem than whether or not gay couples in New Hampshire can get married.

Here’s some earlier CAP work on paid leave in California and family policy (including paid leave) in the UK.