Dane County employees could get 10 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Wednesday.
The proposal, which Parisi rolled out in the county’s 2018 budget, aims to ensure that new mothers and fathers have adequate time with their families before returning to work and will reduce worker turnover, according to a release.
“It’s important as families transition and grow that parents can savor those moments without worries about mounting responsibilities at work,” Parisi said in the release. “I am urging other businesses and leaders in our community to join us in doing what is best for the workplace, for the workers and for our children.”
Dane County Supervisor Jeff Pertl agreed that the initiative would help support families in the community, also noting it would help address equity issues.
"Dane County is setting the standard and leading on paid family leave,” Pertl said in the release. “This is a smart policy that keeps women in the workforce, reflects the changing role of dads in parenting, and helps close the gender pay gap.”
A 2013 Pew Research Center Report discovered that the U.S. is the only country, out of 41 studied, that does not provide paid parental leave.
This lack of support can lead to hardship for workers and families, according to advocates for paid maternity leave. A 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Labor found that, among other negative consequences, 60 percent of employees without fully paid leave reported difficulty making ends meet and many reported putting off paying their bills.
The report also outlines the benefits of parental leave. Maternity leave is associated with improved child health outcomes such as decreased infant mortality, increased birthweight and a decreased chance of premature birth. Paid maternity leave also grows the economy as more women workers join the labor force, according to the report.
Last year, the City of Madison received a federal grant to investigate enforcing paid family leave for its employees, The Capital Times reported. Under the current state law, Madison employers must guarantee their workers six weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, within 16 weeks of his or her birth or placement, according to city officials.
Parisi is expected to introduce his budget proposal to the Dane County Board by Oct. 1.