Biden calls for expanded access to federal workers’ leave

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday calls on government agencies to expand federal workers’ access to paid and unpaid leave as he joins former President Bill Clinton in celebrating the 30th anniversary of Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

The law, the first Clinton signed after taking office, ensures that some workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without losing their jobs or health insurance benefits. The law applies to public bodies, schools and private sector employers with at least 49 employees.

Biden, whose legislation guaranteeing paid family and medical leave for Americans has been stymied by Republicans — and some Democrats — in Congress, is determined to keep pushing the issue, including through executive action, Jen Klein said. , director of gender policy of the White House Council.

He will issue a presidential memorandum Thursday calling on federal agencies to support access to unpaid leave for federal workers, even during their first year of service.

The leave would include caring for a new child, managing a serious medical condition for yourself or a family member, managing family affairs when a family member is called to active duty, or mourning the death of a family member. family, the White House said.

The Department of Defense this month expanded its paid parental leave program to allow both active-duty parents to take 12 weeks off following the birth, adoption, or long-term foster care of a child.

Biden’s memo also directs the Office of Personnel Management to provide recommendations on paid and unpaid “safe leave” for federal workers affected by domestic or dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, according to a White House fact sheet.

“This event is a moment to recognize the difference the Family and Medical Leave Act has made and continues to make for millions of Americans,” Klein said.

He said the Biden administration “will do all we can do with executive action” to advance worker protections, while continuing to push for national legislation that guarantees paid family and medical leave.

The United States is the only wealthy country where women on maternity leave receive no pay.

The memo directs agencies to use their discretion to help workers, especially during their first year of service before they are eligible for family and medical leave or paid parental leave.

Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said such changes would bolster the strength of the US economy. Rising women’s labor force participation has added about 10 percent — or $2.14 trillion — to the U.S. economy since the 1970s, she said.

Boushey said a recent study estimated that about 56 percent of U.S. workers — or 90 million people — had caring responsibilities outside of their full-time jobs, and the situation was becoming more serious as the population aged. population.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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