San Francisco Employers Required to Pay For Parental Leave

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New legislation passed in San Francisco today will make the city one of the most desirable places to work for new parents.
Starting in 2017, employers of 50 or more in San Francisco will be required to shoulder 45% of the cost of parental leave for those employed within city limits, with employers of 20 or more following similar suit the following year. This includes new moms and fathers, along with adoptive parents. This is designed to work in tandem with a previous California legislation set in place. This requires the state to cover up to 55% of six weeks of parental leave. This means that new parents in the city will become the first members of the United States to receive full paid parental leave.
Supporters of the legislation argued that the 55% initially covered by the state was nowhere near enough to live off of, especially when newly developing a family. With this new legislation, Board Supervisor Scott Wiener hopes to close that gap.
“There are low paid workers throughout this city who struggle to survive in San Francisco, with the cost of housing, the cost of transportation, the cost of healthcare. The last thing they need is to have to take a big pay cut just to spend a few weeks at home bonding with a new child,” he said.
It’s generally been believed that the nation as a whole has been far behind in financially supporting new parents. Currently, the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave. It doesn’t help that the importance of the time a parent spends with a child in its infancy has been greatly underestimated, and research has shown that the health and economic positives outweigh the negatives.
In a research summary paper released by the Institute For Women’s Policy Research in 2014 on paid parental leave in the United States, it’s said that “paid leave increases the likelihood that workers will return to work after childbirth, improves employee morale, has no [effect] or positive effects on workplace productivity, reduces costs to employers through improved employee retention, and improves family incomes.” This would be accompanied by “economy-wide benefits such as reduced government spending on public assistance and increased labor force participation, which would bring [subsequent] economic gains, generating a larger tax base and increased consumer spending.”
Hopefully, this new legislation will be the start of a positive ripple effect throughout the rest of the country. Silicon Valley has already been a strong advocate for paid parental leave, with a competitive nature emerging between its companies. Netflix, for example, offers unlimited paid parental leave in the first year after a baby is born or adopted. Amazon recently expanded its parental leave from just new mothers to include new fathers as well. While it can be passed on as a ploy to attract top talent, it does boil down to the fact that these perks mean easier and healthier lives for new parents.
Things are looking up in favor of single parents, and this is exciting news in pushing forward the rights and lives of those within the community. For those currently expecting, take note. For those who already have these days long behind them, it’s still nice to appreciate legislation being pushed out to help those in difficult situations. Now, families will have the crucial opportunity to bond in the early weeks of life all the while being financially secure.

By: Tim Milles

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