Bonding time: County Council establishes policy to provide employees 12 weeks of paid parental and family leave

Monday, April 27, 2015

Up to 12 weeks of leave for new moms and dads; also paid time off to care for sick family members

The Metropolitan King County Council adopted a motion Monday establishing a new county policy that working parents employed by King County will receive up to 12 weeks in paid parental leave after a birth, adoption, or new placement of a foster child. 

“It is past time that the United States join the ranks of every single other developed nation in the world, and ensure that new moms and dads have an opportunity to bond with their child without sacrificing the very wages needed to support a family,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, author of the legislation
“Paid parental leave is not only the right thing to do for parents and kids, but as the private sector has demonstrated, it’s also fiscally responsible as it aids in recruitment and retention of valuable employees. As one of the top ten employers in the State of Washington, King County has an obligation to lead and be a model employer.”

The adopted motion is the first step towards adding King County and its more than 14,000 employees to the growing list of private sector companies and public sector jurisdictions that have adopted paid parental leave policies. These policies reflect the needs of a modern workforce in which around 64 percent of mothers with young children participate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The motion directs Executive Constantine to develop and transmit a plan for providing twelve weeks of one-hundred percent paid leave within a twelve-month period to King County employees who take time off work to bond with a new child or children resulting from a birth, adoption or new foster placement. The new leave policy would take effect no later than January 1, 2016 according to the Council motion, and employees would not be required to exhaust their vacation or sick leave benefits before using the new leave.

The motion also directs the County Executive to develop a workplan for providing paid family leave for eligible County employees to address the serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s parent, spouse, or domestic partner, or child.
"Many families can't afford to take uncompensated time off to bond with a newborn child and that hurts children, working moms and working families generally,” said Michael Gonzales, Teamsters Local 174. “The Teamsters commend Councilmember Dembowski for addressing this issue head on with his paid parental leave policy and hope others follow suit.”


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