US government workers to get 12 weeks paid parental leave

The US government is set to give 12 weeks paid parental leave to federal workers for the first time.

It will be available to around two million government personnel when they become mothers and fathers.

The move came as part of a defence bill passed by the House of Representatives, and is set to be approved by the Senate, and signed by Donald Trump within days.

A compromise between Democrats and Republicans in Congress combined the landmark parental leave provision alongside a $738 billion budget for the Pentagon.

The parental leave measure, which had been pushed by Democrats, will cost the US government an estimated $3.3 billion over the next five to 10 years.

Some on the liberal wing of the Democrat party continued to object to thedeal because of the size of the defence budget.

It will include a 3.1 per cent pay raise for military personnel, the largest in a decade

The compromise bill also included Mr Trump’s demand for the new US Space Force as a sixth armed service.

That was reportedly key to getting paid parental leave included in the bill.

Democrats dropped a demand to block Mr Trump from transferring Pentagon money to fund border wall construction.

However, Republicans also dropped Mr Trump’s demand for $7.2 billion in funding for the wall.

A series of Democrat proposals also did not make it into the deal, including a call for a ban on US military assistance to Saudi-led forces in Yemen, and protections for transgender troops.

Campaigners for paid parental leave welcomed the development, but said it did not go far enough.

They said federal government employees make up only a small percentage of the US workforce, and less than one in five workers across the country gets paid parental leave.

Adam Smith, the Democrat chairman of the House armed services committee, called the parental leave provision an "enormous accomplishment."

He added: "Ït’s basically hard to negotiate when your side wants 100 things and the other side wants nothing."

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: "Wow! All of our priorities have made it: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force!

"Congress – don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!"

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