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Paid parental leave for city employees

This is a thing that should have happened a long time ago.

City of Houston employees soon could be eligible for up to three months of paid parental leave under a policy change expected to reach City Council next week.

The proposal, set for council consideration next Wednesday, would give workers who have been with the city for six months up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. The policy also will include paid time off during pregnancy for certain health matters.

The city’s workforce of about 22,000 employees currently has no paid parental leave. They must use accrued vacation time for those days off. If approved by council, parental leave will not be limited to women.

The policy change was the result of recommendations from the city’s Women’s Commission, formed in August 2021 at the recommendation of District C Councilmember Abbie Kamin, who gave birth to a son last year.

“This is a pivotal moment for the city,” Kamin said. “No parent should have to choose between a paycheck and caring for yourself and your family.”

However late, good for the city to do this. Lord knows, most city employees are not paid much, so at the very least this will help them a little with recruiting and retention. We should have this as a matter of national policy, but until we can get there we’ve got to plug the holes one by one. I look forward to seeing this get passed.

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5 Comments

  1. Kathryn Agarwal says:

    I am so glad to hear that the City Council is taking on womens issues. Paid maternity leave is a critical step toward improving pay disparities. My daughter has been motivated by Abbie Kamin’s work. A great role model!

  2. policywonqueria says:

    LATENT SEXISM?

    Parental leave is not just a women’s issue.

    And coverage of “adoption or foster placement of a child” makes clear that it’s not limited to caring for offspring resulting from the employee’s own procreation.

    Good policy development locally, though national scope would be preferable.

  3. C.L. says:

    “This is a pivotal moment for the city,” Kamin said. “No parent should have to choose between a paycheck and caring for yourself and your family.”

    But by the same token/flipside of that coin…

    No private company should have to choose between staying afloat or going bankrupt because they’re paying a salary to an individual who’s not actively producing a widget for them, especially if they had to hire additional employees to cover for the 90-days-at-home-on-maternity-leave employee or only had a handful of employees to begin with. Thank goodness the CoH has 21,199 other employees and KPRC Ch 2 has other news anchors to pick up the slack.

  4. policywonqueria says:

    GENERATIONAL PACT, NATIONAL SURVIVAL

    Re: “No private company should have to choose between staying afloat or going bankrupt because they’re paying a salary to an individual who’s not actively producing a widget for them.”

    The financing (of income replacement) could obviously be managed through a sensible *public* family support policy, as distinguished from an unfunded mandate imposed on private employers. There is already a precedent of sorts in the tax system in the form of dependency exemptions, earned income credit and child care expense deductions. Transfers for childrearing/family support could also be done through the Social Security system, or through something similar to unemployment compensation systems at the state level.

    What is the justification for redirecting money flows?

    It’s quite simple: Parents (and parent-like care givers and substitutes such as foster parents) shoulder the burdens and cost of raising the next generation and thus further the public good by assuring demographic renewal and replacement of the active workforce in the future, i.e. they contribute to the long-term viability of the country, the community, and the economy. This is an essential, collectively vital, public service.

    Why should the childfree-by-choicers be free-riders?

  5. Ross says:

    @C.L., if a business can’t afford to pay parental leave for one employee, it needs to go out of business for being extremely poorly run. Most of these policies, when imposed by government, have exemptions for small companies.