When it comes to offering leave time for new parents, the United States lags behind other industrialized nations around the world, but things are changing. In the private sector, companies like Netflix and Microsoft are offering very generous paid leave plans, and cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C. are granting public employees weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child. Today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that all branches of the U.S. military will grant 12 weeks of maternity leave and nearly three weeks of paternity leave to active and full-time reservists.
As of now, the City of Los Angeles - the nation's second largest city - doesn't guarantee its nearly 40,000 employees any paid parental leave.
Last fall, I partnered with Councilmember Nury Martinez and we introduced a City Council motion to address this issue. The motion explores offering city employees four weeks of paid parental leave for bonding purposes. It also asks city staff to report on how much leave city employees take off during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, and how much it costs the city when parents leave the workforce after having a child.
Time and again, we've seen employees go through this process of using up all of their sick time and their vacation time in order to have bonding opportunities with the newest additions to their families. At this week's Budget and Finance Committee meeting, we heard from some of the people who provide the city services we depend on - city librarians, 911 operators, clerks and rec center workers - about their personal challenges with LA's current leave policy.
It's time for this city, and the United States as a whole, to catch up with the rest of the world. There are a few compelling reasons why.
A significant portion of LA's aging workforce will retire soon and Los Angeles needs to be able to compete with private industry perks and salaries to attract the most talented people to public service jobs. I believe that paid parental leave would be a good way for the city to attract and retain talented women and men to public service jobs. Los Angeles could also set a positive example for other public and private sector employers who may be considering granting paid parental leave to their workforce. Maybe most importantly, offering paid leave could be an important way for the city, as an employer, to be supportive to working parents during a challenging, wonderful and life-changing time.
Our motion will go to the full City Council for approval and, if approved, staff reports will come back in several months. I think the city has the opportunity to offer competitive family-friendly benefits for its workers and to move the needle on the national discussion about paid parental leave for new parents.
Let me know what you think about this idea and how much parental leave your employer offers by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.