Paid time off bill gets $ 16 billion prize

A bill before the House (HR-564) to expand paid leave for federal employees would be worth some $ 16 billion to non-postal workers – and therefore cost the government that amount – over five years, according to an estimate made for Congress which could prove to be an obstacle to the passage of the bill.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated these costs for a bill that would expand the circumstances under which employees could substitute paid leave for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Currently, employees can take paid leave instead of unpaid leave for up to the full 12 weeks per 12 month period allowed by this law for purposes related to a new birth, to the adoption or placement of a child.

The bill would expand that by allowing employees to take paid time off instead for other purposes under the FMLA, related to close personal or family medical conditions and certain other emergencies. It would also waive the requirement of one year of employment before being eligible for leave for any of these purposes for those with at least one year in the military, and expand eligibility for parental leave. to miscarriages.

The CBO estimated that about 6 percent of federal employees would use an average of seven weeks of medical leave each year and that about 2 percent of federal employees would use an average of seven weeks of medical leave each year.

Separately, he estimated at some $ 8.5 billion over 10 years the costs of the self-funded postal service, whose employees are currently excluded from the authority of paid parental leave but who would be eligible for paid leave for all purposes of the FMLA under the bill.

There would also be additional costs in long-term pension benefits, as employees would use such paid leave rather than sick leave, as unused sick leave is credited as time served in the calculation of the pension, the CBO said.

This assessment could prove daunting, especially when added to the projected annual costs of $ 1 billion for parental leave for non-postal workers already on the books. Republicans raised objections to the costs when the bill was approved by the Oversight and Reform Committee that was working at the time with a preliminary CBO cost estimate that was much lower.

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