The city of San Francisco on April 5th made huge strides, becoming the first city in the nation to require that employers provide new parents with six weeks of fully paid leave time to spend with their newborns. Proposed by San Francisco City Hall Supervisor Scott Wiener and unanimously approved by the city Board of Supervisors, the plan intends to extend the state’s current paid leave provisions. The state of California pays 55% of a parent’s salary over a six to eight week leave period, and San Francisco businesses are now obligated to pay the remaining 45%. This legislation will bring a huge wave of relief for parents struggling to make ends meet in the highly expensive city. A particularly important part of the proposal is that it includes same-sex couples and single mothers and fathers, making it supportive of all new parents. The proposal’s deadline will be set for January 1, 2018, giving time for small businesses with 20 or more employees to implement the policy. Companies with less than twenty employees are exempt from the legislation.
The U.S. has long lagged behind the world’s other industrialized nations with regards to parental leave, being the only one that does not guarantee paid maternity leave. Wiener articulated this issue telling SF Gate, “There’s been a growing awareness in the United States that our parental leave policies as a country are completely out-of-step with the rest of the world,” he said. “When you do have good, paid parental leave, worker productivity goes up. It’s good for the employer, it’s good for the parents, and it’s good for the child.” Paid parental leave is now more commonly seen as a necessity to ensure the healthy growth of families. The main idea of the proposal is that parents should not have to choose between caring for their kids and making enough money to support their household.
The new proposal for San Francisco parents comes after the successful implementation of similar benefits specifically for San Francisco city employees with newborn children. The proposal will not apply to businesses that already currently offer generous paid leave plans. Wiener hopes San Francisco’s measure will encourage other cities, states, and eventually the federal government to implement such paid parental leave plans so that the nation may close the gap with other developed countries that offer guaranteed paid leave.
Thumbnail Image Courtesy of LiveScience