The Need for Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees: Adapting to a Changing Workforce

By Miller, Kevin; Helmuth, Allison Suppan et al. | Research in Brief Series, November 2009 | Go to article overview

The Need for Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees: Adapting to a Changing Workforce


Miller, Kevin, Helmuth, Allison Suppan, Farabee-Siers, Robin, Research in Brief Series


Executive Summary

Facing Workforce Challenges

The federal government, unlike many large private employers, does not provide paid parental leave to its employees. The federal government is the largest single employer in the United States, but federal employees are significantly older and better educated than private sector workers and have already begun retiring at an increasing rate. The departure of many baby boomers from the federal workforce will require the government to recruit and retain younger workers, who expect more job flexibility than workers from previous generations.

The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act would provide four weeks of paid leave for federal workers who adopt, foster, or have a child. This report discusses the role that providing paid parental leave to federal employees could play in addressing federal workforce challenges. Providing paid parental leave for federal workers is expected to improve recruitment and retention of young workers, preventing $50 million per year in costs associated with employee turnover.

Recruiting Young Workers

* Employers increasingly recognize that young workers place a priority on finding jobs that accommodate their family and personal lives.

* Two-thirds of college students say that balancing work and family is a priority for them.

* Work-family balance is valued by both men and women, especially those with children.

* Younger workers increasingly make up a larger proportion of the workforce.

* Companies attract a broad range of workers by providing benefits that meet the needs of younger workers with families.

Competing with the Private Sector

* Overall, federal employees are less satisfied with their jobs and employers than are employees of private companies, and federal sick and vacation benefits are not substantially greater than those offered at large corporate employers.

* Paid parental leave is part of strategy employed by many companies to improve recruitment and retention of employees.

* About three-quarters of the Fortune 100 offer maternity leave (median amount of six to eight weeks) and a third of Fortune 100 companies offer paid paternity leave.

* Working Mother magazine's 100 best companies for working mothers all offer paid maternity leave and most offer other workplace flexibility benefits such as telecommuting, flextime, and part-time phase-back scheduling. …

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