St. Paul Leads the Charge in Offering Paid Maternity Leave

paid maternity leaveEarlier this week, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman announced that the city would like to start offering paid maternity leave for their workers.

The city must go through two more hearings on the proposal before taking a final vote. The proposal, if passed, would provide up to four weeks of paid time off for female city workers who give birth, and up to two weeks of paid leave for city workers whose spouse has given birth. This would take effect starting in January 2015.

Mayor Coleman mentioned the rarity of this type of proposal across the nation:

“We join only a handful of cities across the country with this act. Only just three or four major cities in the country offer this benefit.”

Federal law allows for workers to take up to 12 weeks off for childbirth, but only unpaid leave. Only four cities and 12 percent of American companies provide paid maternity leave.

The U.S. is the one of the only developed nations without paid maternity leave, which is concerning since the average working mother in America takes 10 weeks off after birth, regardless of whether she is paid.

For a woman working full-time on minimum wage, that’s almost $3,000 in lost income.

Other countries, like Germany, offer up to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave for mothers. President Barack Obama has made efforts to require federal paid leave for mothers and parents, but nothing has been made official yet.

There is a strong argument for providing paid leave for workers, besides the fact that it’s simply the right thing to do: attracting young people.

“Anybody that is trying to attract young talent to their organization or their level of government is going to understand that they need to provide benefits like this.”

Said Mayor Coleman.

The estimated cost of the policy would be $200,000 per year, which is a small price when you consider how much more likely you are to hire valuable employees because of the benefits you offer.

It’s important that families have the ability to both work and raise a family without extra financial burdens. A statewide maternity leave policy would be a great next step to making better more family-friendly work environments.

Good job, St. Paul!

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