For many years there has been a growing sentiment, often voiced by members from both sides of the political aisles, that there is a need for mandatory paid parental leave. Although a comprehensive federal approach to this issue has thus far not been agreed upon, all across the country there have been states, counties, cities, municipalities, and private businesses that have taken the initiative to force the issue by either voluntarily providing the benefit, or passing local legislation to require it.
The city of Edmond joined that growing list on Monday, June 12, when the Edmond City Council approved a plan to provide paid parental leave benefits to all city employees. As of July 1, any city employee who gives birth will be allotted up to eight weeks of paid leave, with the same benefit extended to city employees who adopt a child. For any employed spouse or partner of someone giving birth those individuals can take up to four weeks of paid leave. Finally, the plan provides forty hours of paid leave for city employees engaged in foster care of a child.
This is a pretty big move considering the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of leave for similar situations, but all of that leave is unpaid. It begs the question why do more in the way of parental leave than is required by the federal government? For the city of Edmond, the answer is making their jobs more attractive in order to lure in and retain quality candidates. By and large, that is the same motivation for similar changes that have taken place or are about to take place in California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.
Time will tell if this steady drip of change will translate to a tidal wave either through enhanced FMLA benefits enacted by Congress at the federal level, or through a groundswell of state and municipal regulatory change coupled with private businesses pushing boundaries to recruit the best talent. It is certainly a development worth monitoring as companies of all stripes and sizes evaluate what is best for the future of their respective businesses.