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December 04, 2001
Paid Parental Leave for Fed Workers Debated
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idea of giving paid parental leave to federal employees has received a big bucket of cold water from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which issued a study concluding that such a benefit would do little to stem turnover or improve hiring.

The study drew swift criticism from supporters of expanded leave, according to the Washington Post.

"Our study shows that the federal government's leave policies and programs compare favorably with benefits offered by most private-sector companies," OPM Acting Associate Director Doris Hausser wrote in a memo.

"In addition, human resources directors in federal executive departments and agencies overwhelmingly indicated that an additional paid parental leave benefit would not be a major factor in enhancing their recruitment and retention situations."

Hausser added, "We believe employees can meet their family responsibilities with the many leave and work scheduling flexibilities that are already available to them."

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., introduced legislation last year to provide federal employees, men as well as women, with six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. She said she was "shocked" by the OPM's finding.

"If OPM would have taken the time to survey employees of the federal workforce, I think the conclusion would be much different," Maloney said.

Maloney told the Post that she has received telephone calls and letters from federal employees across the country since introducing her bill. Most, she said, "are trying to make ends meet" and want paid parental leave as a benefit.

Maloney said she plans to proceed with her legislation, and one federal union, National Treasury Employees Union, signaled that it would support her effort.

The union's president, Colleen M. Kelley, contended that the OPM study shows the Bush administration "does not grasp the magnitude" of the recruitment and retention problems facing many agencies.

With more and more federal workers retiring over the next five years, the government will need to step up recruitment of young people, including women of childbearing age, Kelley said. For those women, paid parental leave could be a major factor in deciding whether to enter public service, she said.

To view the Washington Post article, click here.

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