In a press conference held June 17th, Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr., in coordination with the Women’s Foundation, announced a paid parental leave policy for public employees.
The executive order establishes up to 12 weeks of guaranteed paid parental leave for all eligible County staff following the birth or adoption of a child. The new paid parental leave policy, which adds an additional seven weeks to the current policy of five weeks, extends to same sex parents and takes effect immediately.
“Many people struggle to care for their families, go into debt or even lose their jobs for simply having a baby. Today, we’re sending a message that families come first at Jackson County. We’re sending a message that quality of life is important to us,” Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr said. “Our new, expanded paid parental leave policy is equal, adequate and accessible. It ensures our Associates, no matter their job, salary or status, have the opportunity to be there for the most precious moments of their lives. With the support of the Women’s Foundation, we are proud to be a leader in this nationwide effort and encourage others to join us by taking a stand for working parents to build stronger families.”
The County’s new paid parental leave policy includes the following highlights:
Up to 12 weeks of leave at 100% of the eligible staff member’s pay.
Applies to mothers and fathers equally, and to both parents if they are eligible County staff.
Can be taken all at once or intermittently.
An eligible staff member must start the paid leave within 12 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child.
Allows County staff who have experienced an eligible birth or adoption within the 12 months prior to the policy’s effective date to access additional paid leave.
“Childbirth and parenting a newborn are physically and mentally hard. It takes time to heal, time to get on a schedule, time to prepare for childcare, time to care for a partner,” Whitney Miller, new mother and Department of Collection Director said. “New parents deserve the time to put all of their energy into their new baby so they can return to work feeling more prepared and focused. This new policy gives associates at every level of County employment just that and I hope today’s action by the County Executive encourages other public entities to follow his lead.”
“When children are born, it’s all hands-on deck for families. Having time to spend together and support each other makes the lives of mom, dad and baby less stressful and more joyful,” Matt Davis, father of two and Jackson County Associate said. “This new policy demonstrates that Jackson County values their associates and their families, is considerate of their health and well-being and is forward-thinking about policies to make this organization a better place to work.”
Expanding access to paid parental leave has been a top priority of the Women’s Foundation, which has been working to educate public officials on the importance of the benefit, advocating for 12 weeks of paid parental leave at 100% pay for state employees. As a result, the Women’s Foundation has helped secure paid parental leave to more than 100,000 state employees in Missouri and Kansas.
"Paid family leave empowers women, their families and helps build thriving communities,” Wendy Doyle, Women’s Foundation President & CEO said. “The commitment County Executive White and his team have made to strengthen Jackson County’s economy and associates' families sets a new standard for both state and local governments.”
Women’s Foundation research, commissioned in partnership with the University of Missouri Institute of Public Policy, found that paid leave programs prevent families from falling into poverty, reduce reliance on public assistance, recruit and retain talented employees and increase worker productivity. It also found about 35% of the country believes expanding paid leave should be a top government priority.
County Executive White’s announcement today comes on the heels of the County fully implementing the recommendations from a compensation study that ensured all county associates are making a competitive and living wage.