President Joe Biden’s administration denied multiple President Trump-era aides their previously established maternity leave, some days before birth, reports Politico.
Even though some Trump aides made arrangements for parental leave early in 2021 in advance of their children’s births, multiple federal employees were told shortly before or after their babies arrived that the benefits would no longer be extended to them after Biden and his team took office.
Some families pleaded with the new administration to honor the previous agreements, one couple writing that they were counting on the leave to deal with “unforeseen complications” during the birth of their child.
“[T]he remaining 9-10 weeks afforded to federal employees is critical to our family and livelihoods as we work to raise a strong, healthy boy under unique and unforeseen complications to our birth plan,” the married Department of Homeland Security officials wrote.
But their calls were disregarded by Biden’s transition team, which said the officials’ previously pledged benefits including payroll ended when former President Donald Trump departed the White House. Continuity between administrations is a long-established tradition in the interests of fairness and unity.
“We understand that a few Trump appointees, including a handful currently on parental leave, submitted last-minute requests to remain on government payroll,” one White House official said. “Because these requests were received so close to Inauguration Day… there was no way to implement an exception to the rule in a way that is fair to all outgoing appointees, including many who resigned as expected without making requests for extraordinary benefits.”
Instead of keeping their leave, “appointees have been advised that they have options including COBRA and the Affordable Care Act.”
Biden previously claimed to be a strong advocate for paid paternity and maternity leave, claiming it should be a requirement for federal agencies to offer.
“It’s about time that federal workers get paid parental leave,” he tweeted in 2019, shortly after Congress passed the Federal Employees Paid Leave Act which granted federal government employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave for their child’s birth.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 18, 2019
“Democrats believe in paid leave,” he wrote in another tweet in 2016.
"I don’t know anybody, in the neighborhoods I grew up in, who could go 3 months without a paycheck." —VP
Democrats believe in paid leave.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 4, 2016
While Congress technically passed the bipartisan leave legislation granting parents working in federal agencies the opportunities to receive paid leave, the statutory interpretation of the policy in the context of a presidential transition is open to manipulation, leaving some federal employees feeling helpless and betrayed.
“I got completely screwed,” one official said in an interview. “There were no caveats in that language saying anything about if the administration turns, you get nothing and of course, that happened and so I got nothing.”