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Houlahan, All of Bicameral Paid Leave Leaders Implore OPM to Fix Misleading Paid Leave Guidance for Federal Employees

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), joined by all of the members of the House Paid Family Leave Working Group and Senate equivalent, led a letter calling out obsolete information on paid parental leave policies available to federal employees. The group took aim at Office of Personnel Management (OPM) handbooks and webpages that haven’t been updated since 2019, before the historic expansion of paid leave for federal employees was signed into law.


In 2019, Houlahan and others helped pass the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act through the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation guaranteed paid parental leave to 2.1 million federal employees. However, a January 2024 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, requested by Houlahan, found that the OPM and other federal agencies never included this major policy change on their public websites or their handbook on employee paid leave benefits.   


Houlahan was joined by fellow co-chair of the House Paid Family Leave Working Group, Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK), and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), co-chairs of the Senate working group. In addition, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Todd Young (R-IN) and Representatives Colin Allred (D-TX), Julia Letlow (R-LA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. (R-IA), and Haley Stevens (D-MI) also supported the letter.


Read the full text of the letter here.


"The report...detailed that perhaps the most important communication channels, the public-facing webpages of the selected agencies, ‘did not reflect current paid parental leave policies,’” the lawmakers wrote. “The report also found that OPM’s Leave Administration webpage is out of date as well. Even worse, the page includes a handbook on paid leave that is nearly a decade out of date and no fact sheets on FEPLA. We are deeply concerned that when asked about this, OPM officials said they had not completed updating the Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption, and Foster Care because ‘they had competing priorities and limited staff available.’”  


The lawmakers concluded: “We implore OPM to take action immediately and follow the recommendations of the GAO report. Although OPM plans to have the guidance updated ‘by the end of 2024,’ we stress that as FEPLA has now passed its fourth anniversary of enactment, this deadline should be seen as a floor and not a ceiling. In addition to your response to this letter, we request that OPM provide a status update to us by July 31, 2024 on actions taken on this matter. OPM must prioritize updating its 2015 handbook and associated fact sheets on its ‘Leave Administration’ webpage to include current and accurate paid parental leave information as soon as possible.” 


Today also marks the 31st anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the landmark legislation that created FMLA and governs unpaid time off for millions of American workers.


Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward” and the Congressional Management Foundation’s 2022 Democracy Award for best Constituent Services in Congress.