I’ll admit I’m glad to be back in Northeast Ohio. At least from the standpoint of my morning runs. Big difference between 56 degrees here in Akron and better than 74 degrees and high humidity in Hilton Head. I was thinking this morning that I want to start talking a little more about some of the issues I’m working on now with Corporate Voices for Working Families.
Here’s one of them: paid parental leave. It’s an important issue for working parents and families. It’s also a controversial one with many businesses, nonprofit organizations and government.
First, here comes the disclaimer. What I write — and post — on my blog doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Corporate Voices for Working Families. The reason I am saying that is I don’t intend to review with anyone what I have to say on issues or anything else for that matter. To do otherwise takes me back to the corporate gulag — and that ain’t going to happen. And I figure if I stray too far into left — or since we’re dealing with politics, right — field, someone at Corporate Voices will let me know about it.
So here goes. Corporate Voices has two interns working in its Washington office this summer: Amy Simon and Allison Keyser. Since I guess I’m still not ready to totally retire from teaching, I’ve been encouraging and helping them write blog postings. Here’s what Amy and Allison wrote about on the issue of paid parental leave:
The federal government is the country’s largest employer, with over 2.7 million employees.
Many years ago, working for the federal government was seen as a badge of honor. But today with the lack of benefits offered to governmental employees the sheen has begun to tarnish. In the past, the federal government recruited the best and the brightest, but today these high- caliber graduates are finding employment elsewhere.
Today, with 40 percent of federal employees expecting to retire in the next 10 years, the federal government will struggle to find highly educated individuals to take their jobs if the benefits offered to the employees do not improve. In particular, the benefits regarding parental leave.
Currently, federal employees are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, guaranteed to them by the Family and Medical Leave Act. However, for most employees, taking time off without pay is not economically feasible.
The lack of paid parental leave also makes it hard for federal agencies to compete with the benefits packages provided by top-tier U.S. firms.
For instance KPMG, offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave and believes that
“continuing success depends on attracting, retaining and motivating high caliber people. To put it simply, our rewards and benefits have to match or exceed what the professional marketplace is offering.”
The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which has recently been passed in the House, guarantees that “of the 12 weeks of unpaid leave guaranteed by the Family and Medical Leave Act, federal employees be allowed to substitute 4 weeks of paid leave, as well as any accrued annual or sick leave for the birth or adoption of a child” according to a fact sheet provided by Representative Carolyn Maloney’s (D-New York) office. (A post on blog, Moms Speak Up, has some additional details.)
The federal government does not offer any paid time off specifically to care for an infant or newly adopted child, putting the United States in the extreme minority of industrialized countries.
This bill is long over due and is vital to the continued success of the federal government.
By Amy Simon and Allison Keyser.
Amy is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in Spanish and international studies at Penn State University.
Allison is a senior majoring in psychology and women’s studies at Dickinson College.