SF To Become First US City To Require 100-Percent Paid Parental Leave

by Jay Barmann in

 

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J.C. Wiatt tried to have it all as a high-powered executive but she had to move to Vermont and create her own gourmet baby food company and marry a hot vet to find a good work-life balance



It's all but a done deal that the Board of Supervisors Tuesday will vote to approve a pioneering ordinance that will allow parents of both genders to receive full pay for six weeks of bonding time with a new infant. Though sometimes referred to as paternity leave or family leave, the new law expands the definition to include any parent, including adoptive parents and gay and lesbian partners who did not give birth to their new children, the right to 100 percent of their salary for six weeks after the birth — provided they are employed by a company with 20 or more employees. The legislation, spearheaded by Scott Wiener, aims to make maternity and paternity leave more affordable for people, given that current state law only provides workers with 55 percent of their salary, and many choose not to take the time off to bond with their children because they can not afford that.

 

As the Chronicle reports, while this currently puts small businesses on the hook for the additional 45 percent for new mothers and fathers, that number is likely to drop to 30 percent after the state legislature has already approved a bill to boost what the state pays up to 70 percent.

Local business owners have voiced objections, however, given how expensive it already is to do business in SF, with our healthcare mandate, paid sick leave, and higher minimum wage. And some have objected to the law's stipulation that an employee can collect parental leave if they only work eight hours a week — they've wanted the language changed to make that 20 hours a week.

As one working dad sympathetic to startups who can't afford to lose parts of their workforce for almost two months says to CBS 5, "You would have employees that are getting good time off to spend with their family. And they come back to work not entirely distracted, half distracted — you’d probably see productivity gains when they get back by doing that."

The US is one of the only developed nations in the world not to offer paid family leave standard, although unpaid maternity leave has long been legally mandated.

Last summer, local company Netflix announced they would offer unlimited paid parental leave to its employees, and other companies like Facebook and Twitter currently offer generous packages of four and five months paid leave, respectively.