What’s the Future of Federal Employees’ Benefits?March 10, 2017 / by Sonny Dothard
Under the Trump administration, federal employees are scared of losing their retirement benefits, compensation, and child care benefits. They are also afraid that if Trump cuts down on federal employees’ benefits, it will ruin their financial planning. Here we try to evaluate who’s planning to cut the benefits and who is protecting them. We also get to know about the current status of the proposal to offer more child care leave to the federal workers.
Which of the Federal Employees’ Benefits are in Danger of Being Cut?
In a recent statement, the White House has signaled that President Trump will overhaul federal employees’ benefits like compensation and move the work to the private sector. These efforts are being named as efforts to innovate and update government. Press Secretary Sean Spicer has also stated that Trump is going to have a hard look at salaries, promotions or programs of the federal government. He will soon know how the government is being operated, how many positions they are in and what people are getting paid.
Defending Federal Employee Benefits
A group of Democrats has already united to protect the rights of the federal workers. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii has introduced a resolution, S. Res. 51 in which the aim is to recognize the contributions of federal employees. The group has also vowed to fight back against all resolutions that have a potential to erode fair compensation for the feds by cutting pay, reducing the overall federal workforce unnecessarily or irresponsibly and raising health insurance premiums.
The senators defending the feds also stated that they would fight back the efforts to reduce retirement benefits, outsource inherently governmental work, undermine federal employee unions and eliminate due process rights for federal employees. The resolution has gotten support from there more senators, and now 15 senators support it.
Apart from the senators’ group, there are many other separate movements that are fighting the hiring freeze imposed by the Trump government. For instance, some House Democrats are aiming to ensure that all veterans are excluded from the hiring freeze directive.
Child Care Leave for Federal Employees
Amid all the changes mentioned above, a Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act was recently reintroduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. It would let civil servants enjoy six weeks of paid time off after the birth, adoption or fostering of a child. Currently, the new parents are eligible for 12 weeks of leave under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act but the time is not paid.
Former President Obama had signed a memorandum in January 2015 that directed agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave to federal employees so that they could care for a child or a family member who is ill. He also supported extending six weeks paid leave. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. took the lead in the house and had been taking this initiative for 15 years. Unfortunately, she failed as the legislative efforts were stalled during the last Congress.
Hopefully, the bill protecting federal employees’ child care benefits will be passed as Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock has joined in to support the bill. Till now all 46 sponsors of the bill have been Democrats. Comstock is representing a federal employee-heavy district in Northern Virginia. She has also signed on, and she is helping to spearhead the effort with Maloney.
Comstock stated that when she was a federal employee and a young mom, she was acutely aware of the balance between building a career and raising a family. This is the reason she is teaming up with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who believes that extending the paid parental leave as a part of federal employees’ benefits will help in reducing the risk of real economic hardships. It will also retain the best federal employees who may otherwise switch to jobs in the private sector.
Interestingly, the bill may also get support from a member of the White House. Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Trump, has said that she will make family issues like maternity leave a priority. Maloney has reached out to Ms. Trump regarding the bill and garnered a positive response. Ms. Trump said she was interested in talking about the bill. Though Ivanka is yet to get back to Maloney, the hopes are high yet.
It is clear that though many federal employees’ benefits like retirement benefits, compensation, leaves may be under scanner of the new government, it will not be easy to curtail them. But it is advised that all federal workers do the financial planning cautiously as unforeseen and dramatic changes may be in store for the future.