House Approves Fair Chance Act and Paid Family Leave Amendments to NDAA
Washington, D.C. (July 12, 2019)—Today, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA) with an amendment offered by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, to reform our criminal justice system, and an amendment offered by Committee Member Carolyn Maloney to provide paid family leave for federal employees.
Fair Chance Act
The House approved a bipartisan amendment with identical language to H.R. 1076, the Fair Chance Act, which was cosponsored by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA).
“I introduced the Fair Chance Act with my colleague Rep. Doug Collins to give individuals reentering society from prison a fair chance at truly achieving the American dream and becoming contributing members of our communities,” said Chairman Cummings. “These policies are common-sense reforms that have shown potential for reducing recidivism and breaking cycles of crime in many states, including Maryland. With fair chance hiring policies, we have not only found common ground, we have found higher ground.”
The Fair Chance Act would:
- Prevent the federal government—including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches—from requesting criminal history information from applicants until they reach the conditional offer stage;
- Prohibit federal contractors from requesting criminal history information from candidates for positions within the scope of federal contracts until the conditional offer stage;
- Include important exceptions for positions related to law enforcement and national security duties, positions requiring access to classified information, and positions for which access to criminal history information before the conditional offer stage is required by law; and
- Require the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in coordination with the U.S. Census Bureau, to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.
More than 70 million Americans with criminal histories face the daunting task of securing employment. They face improbable odds in finding a job as a result of arrests or criminal convictions. Studies show that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent for men in general. African-American men with criminal records have been 60 percent less likely to receive a callback or job offer than those without records. For individuals trying to turn the page on a difficult chapter in their lives, criminal convictions pose a substantial barrier to employment.
The Fair Chance Act is supported by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Conservative Union, Faith & Freedom Coalition, National Employment Law Project, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Prison Fellowship, FreedomWorks, R Street Institute, Justice Action Network, Safer Foundation, and JustLeadershipUSA.
The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act
The House also approved an amendment with identical language to H.R. 1534, the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and cosponsored by Chairman Cummings.
“As the Chairman of the Committee with jurisdiction over federal employees, I am very pleased this amendment was adopted. The federal government should be a leader on this issue, but instead, it is lagging far behind the modern employment practices of many of the nation’s leading corporations. Paid family leave improves the recruitment and retention of employees, decreases turnover, increases loyalty, boosts worker morale, and promotes productivity. Supporting paid family leave supports working American families,” said Chairman Cummings.
“The federal government is our nation’s largest employer with more than 2.1 million employees all across the country. The federal government can and should be a model employer for the private sector in this area. Now, with the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act as part of the NDAA we can make that happen,” said Rep. Maloney. “When I was pregnant with my first child and asked about the leave policy, the response I got was, ‘Leave? What leave? Women just leave.’ That’s not acceptable. This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue – this is a family issue.”
The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to federal employees to care for the birth, fostering, or adoption of a child, an ill spouse, child, or parent, a family member with a serious medical condition, or to deal with circumstances arising from the active duty deployment of a family service member.
The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act is supported by AFGE, AFSCME, NTEU, NARFE, National Partnership for Women and Families, and the Association for American University Women.