Wake is about to give a break to county employees who become parents.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners is poised on Monday to adopt a policy that would allow its 3,820 employees to take paid leave for up to six weeks after they have a child. They could take off eight weeks with pay if there are complications with the child’s birth.
The policy would apply to full- and part-time female and male employees who welcome a newborn, legally adopt or start fostering a child.
About 440 employees have taken unpaid medical or parental leave since last December, according to county staff. They are already eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
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Wake’s proposed policy would cost up to $275,000 a year, according to estimates.
If approved, the policy will mark another effort by commissioners to increase benefits for county employees. A year ago, the board voted unanimously to adopt a new living wage ordinance that increased base pay for full-time employees to $13.50 an hour from $11.08.
The parental leave policy “further cements Wake County as one of the most competitive and family-friendly employers to put us in the best position to recruit and retain the most talented workforce in the Triangle,” Commissioner Jessica Holmes said.
Also, she added, the change could lead to happier and healthier parents and babies.
Wake’s move comes about a month after Durham County enacted a policy that gives its employees who are new parents up to 12 weeks of paid leave. The cities of Durham and Greensboro offer six weeks of paid parental leave.
Raleigh doesn’t offer paid time off for parents. Members of the Cary Town Council recently asked its staff to determine how much it would cost to offer up to six weeks of paid parental leave to the town’s 1,250 employees.
While Wake’s proposal is expected to pass, Cary councilman Don Frantz said he’s concerned about spending taxpayer dollars on an employee’s “personal choice” to parent a child.
“I don’t know that taxpayers should be financially responsible for somebody else’s personal choice, so that’s something I’m going to want help with as we discuss this in the future,” Frantz said.
About 33 percent of Wake’s employees are female and of child-bearing age, according to county staff.
Kathryn Trogdon contributed to this report.