A new bill introduced in the House June 28 would ensure that federal employees have access to up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

“Today most large employers provide at least 12 weeks paid, and this is a competitiveness issue as well as a retention issue for the federal workplace to attract and maintain the top talent in the workplace,” said bill sponsor Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., in a news release.

“Paid parental leave has been proven to help women remain in the workforce, lower infant mortality rates, improve infant health, and reduce depression and other postpartum mental health issues in women. Men who have paid time off upon the birth or adoption of a child are more likely to engage with their child, even after returning to work. The federal government should match other large employers to remain competitive for the top talent necessary for our federal workforce.”

The bill, titled the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2018, also enables the director of the Office of Management and Budget to institute regulations that would make up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave available to an employee for the purposes of competitive recruitment and retention.

The bill also notes that federal employees would not have to use up their sick or annual leave before being able to take parental leave.

“Paid parental leave demonstrates the value we place on family and parenting. Parents should not be forced to make difficult trade-offs between spending invaluable time to bond with their new child or being able to pay their bills and save for their child’s future,” said National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association President Richard G. Thissen.

“The policy also reflects smart human resource management practice. Paid parental-leave policies have been shown to improve the recruitment and retention of young workers, reducing turnover costs significantly. The policy also improves employee morale, which increases productivity. An increasing number of major private-sector employers have recognized these benefits and now provide paid parental leave for their employees. The United States government should as well.”

A similar bill was introduced in the House in 2017 but did not make it out of committee.

After introduction, the bill was sent to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on House Administration for consideration.

This story has been edited to correct a timing error.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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