US Congress grants federal workers three months of paid parental leave

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States (US) Senate on Tuesday approved a provision that would give federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave, in a move championed by Democrats as well as Republican US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

The measure, which passed in the House last week, is part of a massive USD738 billion defence spending bill that now heads to the president’s desk and will fund a wide range of military activities, including creation of a new space force.

The bipartisan agreement on parental leave applies to the nation’s 2.1 million civilian federal employees in the event of childbirth, adoption or taking on a foster care child.

Its passage comes in return for Democrats’ support of the space force, a favoured project of Trump and the Republicans. The parental leave provision is a rare example of consensus in highly polarised Washington and is expected to go into force in October 2020, according to Democrats who hope it will be extended to the private sector, where companies generally create their own rules concerning leave for new parents.

Ivanka Trump, who is also an adviser to the president, called the measure “a HUGE step forward towards making paid leave a reality for all Americans”.

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz, who authored the provision, said that it meant federal “workers will no longer be forced to choose between getting a paycheque and caring for their children”.