News from Congress: In late December 2019, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, Pub.L. 116-92. The NDAA enacted a new paid parental leave benefit for most federal employees.
Title LXXVI, Sections 7601-7606 of the NDAA enacted the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act. This new statute allows for Title 5 employees taking FMLA leave for purposes of childbirth or adoption to receive 12 weeks of paid leave (rather than unpaid leave which the employee can apply their own personal accrued leave against), starting in October 2020. The employee must agree in advance to remain working for their employing agency for at least 12 additional weeks after the conclusion of the paid parental leave. Employees who fail to meet this additional service requirement can be subjected to debt recoupment, subject to possible medical waivers.
This provision applies to most executive branch employees, legislative branch employees covered by the Congressional Accountability Act, GAO and Library of Congress employees, and certain TSA employees. Currently excluded from Sections 7601-7606 are certain categories of non-Title 5 employees, including certain other TSA employees, FAA employees, Title 38 Department of Veterans Affairs employees, judicial branch employees and employees in certain other agencies and government corporations whose personnel systems differ from the Title 5 framework. As of late January 2020, several agencies had announced plans to administratively grant paid leave and/or had been offering such paid leave administratively prior to the passage of NDAA, and corrective legislation is pending in Congress to expand the paid leave benefit to excluded portions of the executive branch.
If you are a federal employee, and wish to discuss your rights under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, consider contacting Passman & Kaplan to request an initial consultation.