Mayor Lenny Curry is proposing six weeks of paid parental leave for all city employees. The proposal would apply to both men and women following the birth or adoption of a child.
Curry said he knows first-hand the value and benefit paid parental leave has for families. His wife Molly Curry received support from her private sector employer following the birth of their children and the mayor said he wants to provide City of Jacksonville employees with the same benefits.
“It just reduces the stress of worrying about income when you should be focused on the most important thing that’s just come into your life, and that’s a child,” he said.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 13 percent of private industry workers had access to paid family leave in March 2016. If this passes, the city would become one of seven in Florida to offer employees paid parental leave, according to our partner News4Jax.
Katriel Phillips, of the Birth Center of Jacksonville, said having parents dedicate time after birth to their child creates strong bonds and also benefits the parents' health.
“When the father has paid leave, then he can be there. And the support for the mom really helps with postpartum depression,” Phillips said.
The proposal comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, according to Curry. The extra paid time off is already accounted for in the budget.
“So you’re paying the same amount you would be paying anyway, they’re just allowed to use their vacation time for some other purpose versus staying home after the birth of a child,” Curry said.
There are also long-term economic benefits for employers who offer paid leave. Curry anticipates savings from the plan. He said parents are more likely to return to work after paid leave, which eliminates the cost of recruiting and training new employees.
“This is really about people and families, about moms and dads being able to focus on what’s most important to them at a time that can be stressful and reducing a piece of that stress,” Curry said.
The plan will be formally introduced to the Jacksonville City Council after Oct. 1 for collective bargaining. It must be approved by City Council and the employee unions before any benefits are seen.