Legislation Would Provide Paid Family Leave for City Employees

Jan 6, 2015

Legislation that would give city of Pittsburgh employees six weeks of full paid family leave was submitted in City Council Tuesday.

It would amend the current rules that allow leave, but must be unpaid if all vacation and sick time has been used. The current policy adheres to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak submitted the bill and said it applies to everyone, “regardless of their marital status, or their gender and it also allows employees who have children, who are adopting children, or who are fostering children to take advantage of this.”

Rudiak said studies show that many forgo using the time provided by the FMLA because they can’t afford to live without their paychecks. She said right now that’s the only option available to city employees. But she thinks paid leave could have long-term benefits.

“Studies show that having parental leave is the best way to have successful nursing of newborns, to shorten hospital stays for parents and then there’s long-term benefits for children in society,” Rudiak said. “When parents are able to spend time with their children at home it could lead to better life outcomes.”

Rudiak said if enacted, the change wouldn’t have a significant impact on the budget, noting the only foreseeable expense would be if an employee had to work overtime to complete the work of a person on leave. But she notes that under FMLA employees have to cover for each other anyway. Rudiak said the U.S. is the the last industrialized nation offering only unpaid parental leave to workers and hopes Pittsburgh can have an outsized influence.

“Although this piece of legislation only covers city employees — because that’s where our jurisdiction lies — I really hope that once this passes it will make Pittsburgh a national leader and set an example for private industry to follow,” she said.

Rudiak plans to hold the measure for an informational hearing post-agenda next week.