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Lawmakers Demand Overhaul of Outdated Federal Parental Leave Information

Originally posted by My ChesCo.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of bipartisan lawmakers is urging the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to update its obsolete parental leave policies that haven’t been revised since 2015. Led by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), the group includes members of the House Paid Family Leave Working Group and its Senate counterpart.

The call comes in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study from January 2024, which found that the OPM and other federal agencies have failed to include significant policy changes on their public websites or employee handbooks. These changes were implemented following the passage of the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) in 2019 through the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation, which Houlahan and others helped pass, guaranteed paid parental leave to 2.1 million federal employees.

In a letter addressed to the OPM, the lawmakers expressed deep concern that the most crucial communication channels, including public-facing webpages of selected agencies, did not reflect current paid parental leave policies. They pointed out that the OPM’s Leave Administration webpage was outdated and included a handbook on paid leave that was nearly a decade old. What’s more, there were no fact sheets available on FEPLA.

“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. “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 letter was also signed by co-chair of the House Paid Family Leave Working Group, Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who co-chair the Senate working group, along with several other senators and representatives.

They concluded the letter by imploring the OPM to take immediate action and adhere to the recommendations of the GAO report. While the OPM plans to update the guidance by the end of 2024, the lawmakers stressed that this deadline should be seen as a minimum requirement, not the ultimate goal. They requested a status update from the OPM by July 31, 2024, on the actions taken regarding this matter.

This move highlights the bipartisan consensus on the urgency to provide accurate and updated information to federal employees about their parental leave rights. As the FEPLA marks its fourth anniversary, it’s clear that the need for clear communication and transparency in implementing such crucial policies remains a top priority.