Jewish Groups Praise Federal Plan for Paid Religious Holiday Leave

Development of Law Has Been in Works for 7 Years

By JTA

Published November 17, 2013.
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Jewish groups made up nearly half the faith groups that praised proposed federal regulations clarifying compensation time for religious holidays.

Some 20 groups, including nine Jewish ones, on Nov. 13 joined in attaching a formal comment praising the latest federal proposal for compensation time.

Since 2005, the federal government has attempted to make a uniform rule for such compensation.

Religious groups objected to a version proposed that year that would have required “written documentation” proving the “legitimacy” of observance and compensating for time off within six weeks.

The new rule, proposed several months ago, requires only objective data — for instance, published dates and times marking a holiday — and a year within which to make up the time. It also extends to part-time employees.

Abba Cohen, the Washington director of Agudath Israel of America, helped draft the comments praising the new proposed rule and said such rules have an impact beyond the federal government.

“What the federal government — the nation’s largest employer — does in this area cannot be overstated,” Cohen said in a statement. “It is a role model and standard-bearer in making ‘religious accommodation’ an important principle in federal and state law.”

Other groups signing on to the comments included the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the American Jewish Committee and the Orthodox Union.

The federal government posts proposed rules for a time, accruing negative and positive comments, before deciding whether to put them into effect or discard them. Negative reaction to the 2005 proposal helped to shelve it.


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