Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has approved a six-week parental leave benefit for Allegheny County employees. The policy is modeled after Pittsburgh’s.
“We really like the policy as we look into it for our employees, we just really think paid leave policies really have benefits for children and families and we want to certainly be a family-friendly community,” said Fitzgerald.
The policy covers six consecutive weeks for men and women following birth, adoption or foster arrangements. Employees will be paid their full salary. To be eligible, employees must have worked for the county for at least a year.
This gender-neutral policy covers 980 non-union employees of the more than 4,600 employees in the executive branch.
Earlier this month, 400 city employees were offered this same benefit after City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak proposed legislation. The policy aims to combat the devastating financial effects that come with childbirth.
“It actually turns out that having a baby is the most expensive health event that families face during their child-bearing years and actually many families who do have children actually become poor during the first month,” said Rudiak.
Rudiak says this is a benefit for everyone.
“We know that paid parental leave policies are cost-effective ways to reduce infant mortality, to improve successful nursing of newborns, to shorten hospital stays,” said Rudiak.
Six weeks is also the time when daycare centers typically begin to accept newborn children, thus allowing parents a more seamless transition back into the workforce.
“Without paid parental leave many county employees up until now may have had to use their sick or vacation days and very rarely will anyone tell you that taking care of a new child is like a vacation,” said Dana Brown, Director of Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics
Fitzgerald says about a dozen county employees would have been eligible to take leave last year had this policy been in place.