UPDATE JANUARY 2018
Over a year ago, Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced up to six weeks of paid parental leave for Salt Lake City employees – regardless of gender, family make-up, or length of employment.
Since the policy went into effect, 94 employees have utilized the benefit, with 82 being new fathers never before eligible for such time off.
29 beneficiaries are with the Salt Lake City Police Department and 14 are with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.
By providing this benefit to employees, Salt Lake City became one of a handful of cities across the country leading on parental leave.
Because of the new policy, Salt Lake City Firefighter Tom Maples – someone who is there for the Capital City every day – was able to be there for this wife and son when they needed him most.
Tom and his wife welcomed their first child, William, in February 2017.
Tom, who is assigned to Station 5 in the 9th and 9th neighborhood, was planning on using just a couple of weeks’ vacation after his wife gave birth.
But when he heard about the new policy, his plans changed.
Like many new parents, Tom described his first few weeks of fatherhood as a pretty steep learning curve. There were new routines, new sleeping schedules, and new responsibilities.
Looking back on the experience, Tom is incredibly grateful for the additional time off.
Realizing now that it allowed him time to bond with his son, and to go back to the station much less distracted, and even a little relaxed.
Tom says that little William is growing like crazy, and has even been to the firehouse to meet his father’s crew.
Salt Lake City continues to pave the way as a leading example of progress for the state and cities across the country. Mayor Biskupski hopes that the success of paid parental leave in Salt Lake City will propel other cities in our state to act by expanding parental leave to all families.
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.