work-life-balance

Maryland Residents Stand to Gain on Paid Leave

Federal workers who are Maryland residents may be seeing a change to their paid leave benefits. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Following the path of D.C.’s ambitious proposed paid leave policy , federal workers who live in Maryland might also see a change to their paid leave benefits. Maryland Del. Ariana Kelly, a Democrat, plans to introduce legislation in January to allow federal workers who work in D.C. and live in Maryland to opt-in to a state insurance pool and receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits.  

The D.C. Council recently unveiled paid leave legislation that would provide up to 16 weeks of paid leave for Washington, D.C., residents, including those who work for the federal government. Non-residents who work for private companies based in D.C. would also be covered, but federal workers who live in Maryland, Virginia or another state would not. Because of this, two employees working side-by-side in the same federal office could wind up with wildly diverging paid leave plans.  

Ryan's Demands Include Plea for Work-Life Balance

Ryan requested time with his family as a condition to become Speaker. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Much of the media attention on Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s “conditions” for becoming the next speaker focus on his requirement that three disparate factions of the GOP unite in support of him. But one condition tucked neatly into the list includes a plea for work-life balance: no weekend fundraising travel.  

The Wisconsin Republican cites his own family responsibilities for needing time away from work, and he is not alone in thinking that too many hours on the clock can lead to a less effective performance. Research has shown that taking periodic breaks to recharge — a quick walk, cup of coffee or even a few days for vacation — will actually improve work effectiveness and creativity.  

How August Recess Makes Life Better — for Everyone

August recess isn't just for the beach. One expert explains how to be productive. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

September is looming large, with the August recess eventually coming to an end. But these several weeks aren’t wasted time. On the contrary, August recess actually improves a congressional office’s effectiveness, says Brad Fitch, president of the Congressional Management Foundation and a former Hill staffer.  

Fitch and CMF spend their time helping congressional offices be more efficient, productive and responsive. He took some time to talk to Hill Navigator and explain the August productivity uptick, and ways offices can use the time to prepare for the busy months ahead.  

Hill Navigator Summer Reading List

In search of a good book? Hill Navigator has some reading recommendations for you this summer. (CQ Roll Call File Photo).

August. Even the newest D.C. residents know it might be the best time to switch the smartphone to silent and head out of town to cooler and less-humid places, preferably with beaches. (Mountains work too.)  

Much has been written about why taking vacation can make you a better employee;  You leave the grind for a few days and come back well rested, more clear headed, able to be more creative, thoughtful and productive.  

An Easy Fix for Members Who Want Overtime for Staff

Gutiérrez will pay his congressional staff overtime. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Even if Congress takes no action on amending the Congressional Accountability Act to add overtime protections for staff, individual offices can lead the way and implement changes for their own staff, much as they have done for workplace protections such as maternity and paternity leave.  

Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., says he intends to apply the new overtime regulations to his congressional employees in Washington and Chicago, “regardless of whether the U.S. Congress moves to adopt them when final.” Gutiérrez compared himself to a small-business employer, saying, “If these regulations are good enough for American workers in the private and public sectors, they ought to be good enough for me and my colleagues in the House and Senate.”  

Boehner and Pelosi Agree: Overtime for Their Aides

Boehner and Pelosi will both overtime for their aides at the new Dept. of Labor threshold, when finalized in 2016. (CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agree on one aspect of the new overtime provisions: More of their own aides will be eligible for extra pay when the new criteria issued by the Department of Labor are finalized, likely in early 2016.  

Pelosi's office already paid overtime at the annual salary threshold of $50,000, and will use the new $50,440 annual salary threshold in 2016. A spokeswoman for Boehner said his office "will work to adopt the new criteria when finalized by the Department of Labor." The office of House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., will comply with the new threshold, according to his spokesman. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., did not respond to several requests for comment.  

Experts: Congress Under Pressure on Overtime Rules

Late night on Capitol Hill? Experts think Congress may bow to pressure to pay overtime. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Workplace and labor law experts are predicting Congress will bow to external pressures and implement new overtime regulations, including the $50,440 annual salary threshold.  

The reason is that the Congressional Accountability Act, the legislation that governs Congress’ own workplace, was designed to keep pace with private sector employment laws, says Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute and a former Hill staffer.  

CNN's Josh Levs Takes Paternity-Leave Message to Capitol Hill

Dads on Capitol Hill still stand to improve paternity leave policies and one TV journalist wants to tell them how. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When talking about taking paternity leave, there seems to be two whirlpools of discussion: Do offices provide enough (or any) time off, and are dads actually taking the time provided to them?  

One advocate for paternity leave believes there is room for improvement in both areas, and he is taking his message to Capitol Hill. Josh Levs, a journalist currently on leave from CNN, found the impetus to create change after he opted to stay home when his daughter was born prematurely. Levs' employer called him back to work, so he filed a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Since then, Time Warner has revolutionized its family-leave policies: Dads now get six weeks of paid paternity leave.  

Congress' Overtime Rules Are From 1970s

Congress has let overtime provisions remain as "pending" for several years.  (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress has gone 11 years without implementing changes to the income thresholds for paying staffers overtime, and the overtime standards in practice today on Capitol Hill are so antiquated they date back to 1975.  

In short, that means the annual salary one can make in Congress before being eligible for overtime is $155 a week, or about $8,060 a year. That's a far cry from the Labor Department's proposed threshold annual salary of $50,440, and still dramatically lower than the $23,660 income threshold the Labor Department adopted in 2004.  

Half of Capitol Hill Staff Could Qualify for New Overtime Rules

The workplace that never sleeps: Half of Capitol Hill staff are under the new overtime threshold. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Nearly half of Capitol Hill staffers could qualify for overtime pay under the new Obama administration overtime rules to move the threshold to $50,440. Whether the new rules will apply to staffers is an open question for Congress.  

According to a custom report produced for CQ Roll Call by LegiStorm, 5,617 staffers, or 43 percent, are making less than $50,440 annually. The report analyzed 13,092 Capitol Hill staffers who work in committee, leadership and personal offices of the House and Senate and adjusted for anomalies, which include staffers who leave midway through a fiscal quarter and those paid out for vacation days.