New Payday?

Posted April 15, 2008 at 6:44pm

Legislation giving the House Administration Committee the authority to change the day when staffers receive their paychecks passed the House by voice vote on Tuesday, another step forward in the effort to pay staffers twice instead of once a month.

[IMGCAP(1)]The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. It does not immediately change the day when staffers get paid, but merely allows House Administration to study the issue and enact changes later.

House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) introduced the measure, which passed the panel earlier this month. Ranking member Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) is a co-sponsor of the bill, although he has cautioned that Members must take steps to ensure staffers are not negatively affected during the transition period to a potential twice-a-month payday system.

More Benefits? Legislation that would give all federal employees four weeks of guaranteed paid leave following the birth of a child passed a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on Tuesday.

The Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia voted 8-3 to send the measure to the full committee.

Introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and co-sponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and full committee ranking member Tom Davis (R-Va.), the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act is unusual because it applies to legislative branch employees, not just those working in the executive branch.

Legislative branch workers currently are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Maloney’s measure not only would give employees four weeks of paid leave, but also let them use accumulated paid time off up to the 12-week mark.

Supporters argue leave is an incentive to continue to serve the government, especially since the private sector often offers federal workers higher yearly salaries.

“The federal government is a great start for paid leave — we should be setting the national standard for providing American workers with a truly family friendly workplace,” Maloney said in a statement.

“Antiquated family leave policies are a talent drain on the government — they’re an incentive for skilled people to look elsewhere for work at the very time when our government needs them most,” she added. “This bill is a positive step in the right direction.”

Gym Rats. Members of the armed forces who are assigned to a Congressional liaison office in the House might soon be able to use the House fitness center.

The House passed a bill by voice vote on Tuesday that allows military liaisons to use the gym, which is open only to House employees. House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) introduced the bill, calling it a small gesture to the men and women who serve the nation.

“It’s just not practical for them to use exercise equipment at local military facilities while they’re stationed on the Hill,” Brady said. “These men and women are responsible for protecting our nation and we want them to have every opportunity to stay fit.”

Into the Future. The American Institute of Architects is on Capitol Hill this week to figure out ways to turn the House into a “21st century workplace.”

The AIA has been asked to find ways to help Members and their staffs use space as efficiently as possible, use taxpayer dollars wisely and help make Member offices more open to constituents.

Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard invited the group to Capitol Hill, and AIA officials have met with House workers all week to come up with their recommendations, which are scheduled to be released on Friday morning.

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