All in the (Salt Lake City) family: Mayor Biskupski announces paid parental leave

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Full-time employees of Salt Lake City start 2017 with a new, family-friendly benefit: Six weeks of paid parental leave.

The policy applies to employees who become parents through birth, adoption or foster care and is not gender specific. The leave can run concurrently with the 12 weeks already supplied through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and short-term disability insurance benefits.

“I know from my own experience as a new mother seven years ago the enormous changes that come with parenthood,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “All parents deserve time to bond with a new child and to adjust to a very different life without added stress of financial pressures from missing work.”

Paid parental leave benefits everyone. For years, studies have shown these policies promote better health among employees and their families. This includes a reduction in infant mortality, lowered rates of postpartum depression, and even greater attention by parents in scheduling and keeping well-baby exams and infant immunization schedules.

Some researchers have concluded fathers who take time off the job after their child is born are more involved in their child’s care into the future. Parental leave provides greater time and duration for care, physical and emotional recovery from child birth, and bonding time— by any measure, all positive outcomes for our communities.

Human Resources Director Julio García and his team provided leadership in researching the benefits of the new policy. “I was tasked by the Mayor to update and create new HR policies that reflect our diverse workforce. Paid parental leave is still a rarity in many U.S. cities, and I’m happy to support policy that leads in this way.”

While the United States stands alone as the only industrialized nation to not offer paid parental leave, Salt Lake City now joins a handful of cities and counties, including Portland, Oregon and King County, Washington, to offer the benefit.

“I’m proud that as the capital city, we continue to pave the way as a leading example of progress for the state and cities across the country,” the Mayor said. “It is my hope that our leadership will propel other cities in our state to act and live up to our shared values by expanding parental leave to all families.”

In addition, numerous policies were updated including enhanced tuition reimbursement, refined discipline and harassment procedures, and new employee award and recognition standards.

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