Fitzgerald Announces Paid Parental Leave Benefit for County Employees
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced today that he has approved and directed the implementation of procedures and policy guidelines for a six-week paid parental leave benefit for Allegheny County employees.
“The fact that the United States still lags behind, really, the rest of the world when it comes to providing paid parental leave is unbelievable to me. Providing this benefit to employees of Allegheny County is the right thing to do – for our employees, for their children and for our county,” said County Executive Fitzgerald. “We benefit as a community when employees succeed at work and at home. I commend Councilwoman Rudiak for taking the first step in putting forth this policy in the City of Pittsburgh, and am extremely proud to add Allegheny County to this growing effort today.”
The policy will provide six consecutive weeks of paid leave for employees welcoming a new child or children whether by birth, adoption or foster arrangements. Pay during that leave will be 100% of an employee’s base rate at full-time, or 40 hours per week. To be eligible, an employee must be a permanent and full-time employee, must have worked for the County for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 month period preceding the leave. The employee’s gender, marital status or sexual orientation will not be considered in determining the employee’s eligibility, and the employee shall not be required to expend earned vacation time before receiving paid parental leave.
“I’d like to commend our County Executive for taking this important step for County employees. We know that when parents have paid leave to care for new children, they are more likely to remain financially and physically healthy, and they are more likely to return to their work when leave is over,” said Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. “Despite these facts, only about 12% of private sector workers are afforded paid family leave by their employers. It is my sincere hope that our policies at the City and County inspire our colleagues in the private sector to create similar policies to support families across the region.”
Paid parental leave has been available as a legal right and/or governmental program for many years in most developed countries. According to an International Labour Organization report, at least 178 countries guarantee paid leave for working mothers, and more than 50 countries provide similar benefits for fathers. The United States is one of four developed countries that has no such policy, although President Obama recently gave federal employees parental leave and spoke about paid leave as a crucial economic matter during his State of the Union address. Only three states currently have paid leave programs: California, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
“The Women and Girls Foundation applauds the County Chief Executive for taking leadership on this important issue. Gender neutral family leave policies are good for families and good business. When a salaried employee leaves a job because of a lack of paid leave, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average to replace that individual,” said Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation. “By providing paid leave, the county will save taxpayers money and will retain its best talent. When every parent has access to paid leave to care for a child, women no longer bear the stigma or responsibilities of caregiving alone. This policy honors all families and we hope it will be a model for other employers to follow suit.”
A recent New York Times article stated that economists have found that with paid leave, more people take time off – particularly low-income parents who may have taken no leave or otherwise dropped out of the workforce after the birth. Paid leave reduces disparities in leave-taking between low and high socio-economic groups, without damaging their labor market prospects. Family-friendly policies, like paid parental leave, are linked with short-term benefits like shorter hospital stays and better health for mother and child, and long-term benefits like higher educational attainment, lower teen pregnancy rates, higher IQ scores, and higher earnings in adulthood.
“Allegheny County is taking a leadership role in the state with change in parental leave policy. We’ve seen that when paid parental leave is implemented, there is a positive effect on long-term productivity through improved recruitment, retention, and employee motivation – all while supporting our working families,” said Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. “We congratulate the County Executive for this thoughtful change in the county’s policy.”
The new policy will not supersede or change any collective bargaining agreements. It will not reduce or expand the total amount of leave time available to employees under any federal, state or local law and will not include paid holidays as defined by the official holiday calendar for County employees.
Source: Allegheny County
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