Children of Single Federal Employees Get Half the Benefit from New Parental-Leave Law

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Beginning on October 1, 2020 roughly two million federal workers will be eligible for paid time off after childbirth, adoption or receiving a foster child into their home.

Several states have passed similar laws. As of 2018, paid family leave was available to 25 percent of state and local government workers, and ninety-three percent had access to unpaid leave, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The new benefit offers federally employed parents of both genders an equal and individual right to time off. This means most federal workers, regardless of gender, will be eligible for up to twelve weeks of paid leave. If both parents are federal employees, they get a combined twenty-four weeks to care for the new baby. But a single parent only gets twelve weeks.

Consequently, infants in homes of single federally employed parents get just half the benefit of neonatal or infant parental care as a two-parent family.

Unmarried parents account for around 40 percent of U.S. births, a number that can increase further for certain racial and ethnic groups. While unmarried parents can choose to co-parent, a significant number of single parents will not have the option of additional parental leave time, making the already difficult task of parenting alone far more difficult.

Mainstream media have covered the law providing parental-leave benefits to federal workers, but few media outlets have reported on the continued disadvantage facing single parents under these conditions. Three independent media sources published an article by Deborah Widiss on this issue.

Source: Deborah Widiss, “Parental leave laws are failing single parents,” The Conversation, January 14, 2020,

Student Researcher: Libby Giesbrecht (University of Regina)

Faculty Evaluator: Penny Smoke (University of Regina)