Politics & Government

Paid parental leave for many state employees starts Sept. 1, but not for all of them

This story was updated Aug. 13 to reflect a correction from the Office of State Human Resources about who is participating.

Paid parental leave for thousands of state employees starts next month, but not every agency is participating, including the one that oversees employment.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, issued an executive order in May to offer paid parental leave to many state employees. It goes into effect Sept. 1 for nearly 59,000 employees, according to a news release from the Office of State Human Resources that went out by email Monday.

“Paid time off for parents to recover from childbirth and bond with new family members is the right thing to do and I’m grateful that many other agencies agree,” Cooper said in a statement included in the release.

Paid leave will be granted to eligible state employees who have become a parent through birth, adoption, foster care or another “legal placement of a child,” according to the human resources office.

In most cases, parents who give birth will get eight weeks’ paid leave; other parents will get four weeks of paid leave. The leave amount is 100% of the employees’ regular pay.

Here’s who will get the leave:

Employees of any North Carolina department, agency, board or commission under the governor’s oversight.

Other agencies that voluntarily agreed to provide paid parental leave to eligible employees:

Office of Administrative Hearings.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Office of the Commissioner of Banks.

Office of the Secretary of State.

Office of the State Auditor.

Office of the State Controller.

Department of Public Instruction.

Department of Justice, which will offer eight weeks of paid leave to both an employee who gives birth and other eligible employees, according to the HR office’s release.

Administrative Office of the Courts, which operates as an independent branch of state government and will “provide eight weeks to its eligible employees,” the HR office said.

Here’s who won’t get the leave, as these agencies decided not to participate, according to the HR office:

Office of the State Treasurer.

Department of Labor, which oversees workplace safety and other employment matters.

Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry “feels that there are sufficient leave programs already available to state employees to address such absences,” said Dolores Quesenberry, a spokesperson for the Department of Labor.

Who’s still thinking about it:

Department of Insurance.

State Education Lottery.

UNC System.

Community College System Office.

On Tuesday, the Office of State Human Resources and a spokesperson for the Community College System said that the Community College System Office is still evaluating its participation in paid parental leave, and has not made a decision yet.

“As Paid Parental Leave becomes an increasingly competitive benefit across North Carolina, it also serves as a powerful incentive to recruit, retain and motivate a strong state government workforce,” Cooper said in the statement.

Staff writer Will Doran contributed to this report.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan covers North Carolina state government and politics at The News & Observer. She previously covered Durham for 13 years, and has received six North Carolina Press Association awards, including a 2018 award for investigative reporting.