The annual defense policy bill, if passed by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the president, would grant federal employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption or foster of a new child.
If you live in the United States, and you are an employee of the United States Federal Government, and you are planning to have a family, this is a wonderful benefit, assuming the bill is actually passed, which with this current government, is doubtful. However, to call it historic, or even wonderful, falls well short of the mark.
Other backslapping terms cited in the article include watershed, life-changing, and monumental. If the bill passes, this will go into effect in October of 2020, more than a year from now. Please make a note of that in your family planning.
Why am I so contemptuous of this policy? For starters, this only applies to employees of the Federal Government. Without a calculator, I cannot accurately estimate the impact. Still, the number of people that this will benefit is a fraction of a percent of the overall workforce in the United States when you consider those of childbearing or family starting years and those who are actual Federal Employees. This does not cover contractors or anyone else that toils for a paycheque in the United States.
I am also derisive of this policy because it still falls considerably short of the policies for other First World/Developed nations around the world. According to the United Nations, of 193 countries, only a handful do not have any national paid parental leave law. Guess who they are? New Guinea, a few South Pacific island nations and the United States. The Federal law would align the benefit for Federal Employees with the basic minimums that are already prevalent in the world, which means we are not on par with countries like Sudan (oh, wait, never mind, everyone in Sudan gets 13 weeks).
Most of the developed nations start at 26 weeks and go up from there, with a guarantee that your job will still be there should you decide to return. Let me say that again. If you go on maternity leave, most policies guarantee that the employee will have a job when they return from their leave. It is not clear that such a guarantee is in this bill. I will need to check that, but I would hope it is. Of course, this bill was supposed to be a larger bill that also provided for the care of sick family members, a growing problem in the United States as the cost of health care skyrockets, and the population is aging at a rapid rate. That is still a significant hurdle that many people, not just Federal Employees, need to overcome on a daily basis.
I congratulate the Federal Government. An organization that has been the whipping boy of both the President and Congress, where hiring the best and the brightest has never been easy, now has a benefit worth writing home about. If the bill gets passed. And signed. And not watered down in committee, and any of a dozen other things that could happen before October of next year. Now, what about the rest of the population?