Mayor Johnson signs parental paid leave policy for city of Milwaukee employees

NOW: Mayor Johnson signs parental paid leave policy for city of Milwaukee employees

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A historic policy set to help the future families of city workers in Milwaukee was signed on Thursday, Feb. 17. The parental paid leave policy offers six weeks paid leave to expecting parents who are eligible for the benefits.

"The work relationship must respect the individual, respect the life circumstances that employees face, and be based on more than just an hourly wage," said acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

Previously, city employees had the option to take parental leave, but it was either unpaid or employees had to use vacation or sick days.

Now, expecting parents are offered six weeks paid after the birth of a child, placement of a child under the age of five through adoption or acting as a placement of a parent, or an instance of infant loss by a miscarriage or stillbirth after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

"We need to listen to our parents, our working women, our working families to really figure out what kind of solutions they need to support them to continue working, as well as economic opportunities," said Christina Thor of 9-5 National Association of Working Women.

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, the policy's lead sponsor, said they've taken notes from Madison's Parental Paid Leave program.

"We were looking at governmental entities, that’s a pretty fair way to analyze and compare. So Madison is about six weeks as well, so we think that's a good way to start," said Ald. Dimitrijevic.

The alderwoman said she'd prefer 12 weeks paid leave, but said she's committed to evaluating the program after a year and potentially adding on.

Alderman Nik Kovac of the third district addressed questions concerning costs.

"In this case, it's not necessarily, and most likely won't be a direct cost. It’s the value of the hours that won't be worked. The cost will come up if we then need to replace that work with filling or overtime," said Ald. Kovac.

The policy states that full-time employees could be eligible. The eligible employee must work a minimum of 1,000 hours, excluding leave of absence, in the 12 months prior. Part-time employees could also be eligible for parental paid leave prorated, based on the employee's regular schedule.

City workers will be eligible for parental paid leave starting April 4.

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