Under the Federal Worker Leave Fairness Act, federal employees could keep the annual “use it or lose it” leave they’ve earned but haven’t been able to use because of the coronavirus pandemic. Democratic Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-06) is one of the cosponsors of the bill.
Kilmer explained that government employees, such as shipyard workers in his district, Postal Service employees and NIH researchers, have been making sure essential work has continued uninterrupted during the pandemic. Because of this, along with efforts to minimize health risks by not traveling, many of these employees have not used their paid leave benefits.
“It’s not like folks can travel much right now,” said Kilmer, “and federal workers shouldn’t have to sacrifice the paid leave benefits that they’ve earned just because they chose to prioritize serving our country.”
Kilmer is hopeful about the bill’s prospects for getting to a vote in the House, citing support from federal employee unions and cosponsors including Representatives Jennifer Wexton, Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly. “It is simply an issue of fairness. I think people will understand and appreciate that, and this is the type of thing that Democrats and Republicans in Congress ought to be able to get done,” Kilmer stated.
There was a companion bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), which Kilmer is also optimistic about. “I don’t think there is or should be controversy around this – it’s just a matter of getting it done and doing what’s right on behalf of our federal workers who are playing an important role on behalf of the citizens of our country,” he said.