Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember M. Lorena González Monday enacted a new paid family and parental leave policies and new wage transparency measures. The bills call for the current paid parental leave policy for City employees to be increased to 12 weeks and provides four weeks of paid family leave for employees to care for sick family members. The legislation makes Seattle the first municipality in the region to offer robust parental and paid family care leave. These benefits will be implemented retroactively to January 1, 2017 allowing City employees to access this leave for events starting this year.
Also, beginning in March, City employee salaries will be made available on Seattle.gov to increase wage transparency throughout City departments to help close the gender and racial pay-gap at the City. These proposals stem from the City’s Workforce Equity Strategic plan.
“No person should be forced to choose between their job and caring for their family,” said Mayor Murray. “These measures ensure City employees will no longer be forced to take unpaid leave to care for aging parents, and new moms will have access to more paid leave to welcome and care for a child. These are steps in the right direction and I urge private businesses to follow our lead in creating a fairer workplace for people of color, women, and working families.”
“It’s no secret that family-care obligations often fall to women, and particularly women of color,” said Councilmember González (Position 9, Citywide). “With paid family and parental leave policies get to the heart of racial and gender equity, today we remove institutional barriers to employment opportunities at the City and once again, lead the country by living and practicing our values.”
“No one should have to choose between taking care of loved ones and earning a paycheck,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia). “When a new child is born or adopted, or a family has a health crisis, City of Seattle employees will now have a minimum of 12 weeks of paid assistance. And vacation leave and sick leave can be ‘banked’ to provide more paid time for the family. As employers, we know that our new plan will bring us in line with other industrial nations, and data confirms our city will benefit from deeply loyal workers and healthy families.”
“Not everyone has children,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park). “Therefore, since family-care duties are often fulfilled by women, and chiefly women of color, extending paid family leave beyond just parental leave is a matter of equity – both inside and outside City Hall.”
Those employed by the City for at least six months will automatically receive eight weeks of paid parental leave when a new child is born or a child is placed in their legal care. Four additional weeks are available to employees depending on the amount of leave remaining in their vacation and sick time balances.
Paid Parental Leave
- The leave benefit will increase from four weeks to up to twelve weeks for eligible employees, for the non-medical care of a newborn or child placed for adoption, foster care or legal guardianship.
- The leave must be used within 12 months of birth or placement.
Paid Family Care Leave
- Eligible employees may receive up to four weeks for the care of a qualifying family member with a serious health condition in a 12-month period.
- Qualifying family members include employees’ parents, spouses or domestic partners and children, or the children or parents of employees’ spouses or domestic partners.
- Eligible employees must have the serious health condition of a family member certified by a health care provider, and must draw down their sick leave to a minimum of two weeks and vacation leave to one week to receive “new” leave.
Increased paid family and parental leave benefits are projected to cost the City $2.3 million in General Funds annually. In July of 2016, Mayor Murray and the City Council unveiled a joint comprehensive Workforce Equity Strategic Plan to promote greater workforce equity, including actions to improve hiring, promotion and career development; reduce institutional barriers for current or potential employees; as well as broaden parental leave policies and increase family care benefits for City employees. The bill was introduced by Councilmember González and cosponsored by Councilmembers Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Council President Bruce Harrell, Herbold, Rob Johnson, Debra Juarez, Mike O’Brien, and Kshama Sawant. Mayor Murray will sign the legislation into law thisFriday, February 17.