San Francisco First US City to OK Paid Parental Leave

For 6 weeks, state will pay 55% of worker's paycheck, private companies 45%
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2016 10:34 AM CDT
More bonding time with baby in San Francisco.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – What do the United States and Papua New Guinea have in common? Per the International Labor Organization, they're the only two countries out of 185 that don't have national paid parental leave, the New York Times reports. To make up for that absence, some states—including Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, and most recently, New York, per PBS—have implemented partial payment through state insurance programs, and now San Francisco has joined the pack, but with one big difference: Thanks to a measure passed Tuesday, the city will offer fully paid leave for six weeks for new parents (either biological or adoptive), making it the first city in the nation to do so, ABC News reports. A worker can already recoup 55% of his or her paycheck through the state of California for parental leave, and the new mandate in San Francisco mandates private employers in the city with at least 20 employees make up the rest of the paycheck for that time period.

The measure's supporters applaud the decision. "Paid parental leave increases the probability that employees will return to work, be more productive, and earn higher wages," the CEO of the Bay Area Council tells the Times. "That is good for business and for families." Others praise the vote, though in more measured tones. "We are ahead of the curve in California, but globally, we are way behind. It's shameful," says a Legal Aid Society lawyer. One group not passing cigars around: some Bay Area small-business owners, who say Tuesday's vote will place more of a burden upon companies already struggling with the city's expensive cost of living and minimum-wage mandates, per KPIX 5. "Enough is enough," one local factory owner says. "It's this constant piling on, it's the death of a thousand cuts." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, meanwhile, wonders about the futility of the measure, noting that San Francisco is a city "where hardly anyone can afford a family" anyway. (One mom's heartbreaking story on why we need parental leave.)

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