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Council OKs paid parental leave for city government employees

October 3, 2018

The Fort Wayne City Council approved a paid parental leave policy for city government employees tonight.

Under the policy, approved in a preliminary 8-1 vote, city employees are eligible for up to three weeks of parental leave for the birth of a child or the adoption of a child under the age of 18. The proposal, which was introduced to council by Mayor Tom Henry’s administration in July, was previously tabled after council members said they would rather discuss the policy during annual October budget discussions. 

Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, was the sole vote against the policy.

Paid parental leave will run concurrently with leave approved under the Family Medical Leave Act, Stephanie Crandall, the city’s director of intergovernmental affairs, told the council. Additionally, to be eligible, employees must have worked for the city for at least 12 months and must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the year prior to the leave. The policy applies to both mothers and fathers of biological and adopted children and must be taken within the first 12 weeks following a birth or adoption. 

Parental leave helps employees adjust to a new family situation, strengthens family health and helps decrease infant mortality rates, Crandall said. It’s also an attractive benefit for potential employees, both for the city and private businesses, Crandall said. The city’s policy will not apply to private businesses.

“I’ve actually had some phone calls from some expectant fathers who would be very favorable if this policy would go through,” Crandall said. 

City officials have included $66,000 into the 2019 budget, Crandall said, for public safety employees taking advantage of the program. The funds would be used to pay for temporary employees who would need to be hired to fill in for certain essential positions.

Neither the city nor Allen County currently has a specific parental leave policy in place. County government employees can take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under the county’s short-term disability policy, new mothers are paid at 60 percent of their salary for six weeks for a natural birth, eight weeks for a C-section. 

A statewide policy for full-time state employees took effect in January after it was approved by Gov. Eric Holcomb. Under that policy, employees are entitled to up to 150 hours of paid parental leave after a birth or adoption.

A final vote on the city’s policy will be Oct. 9. The outcome of final votes among councilmen rarely changes.

dgong@jg.net

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