The Board of Supervisors in the US city of San Francisco has passed legislation that will require employers to contribute towards fully paid parental leave.
Employees in California are currently eligible to receive up to 55% of their pay for six weeks of parental leave, which is funded through employee payroll contributions. The new legislation will require employers with 20 or more employees to fund the remaining 45% so that staff receive six weeks on full pay.
The paid parental leave programme will apply to both parents for births and adoptions. Employees who work eight hours or more a week will be eligible for the programme.
If an employer already provides benefits that are equal to, or in excess of, the requirements then the legislation will not apply.
The programme is structured so that an employer’s contribution will automatically decrease if the state’s contribution increases.
The legislation will come into effect from January 2017 for organisations with 50 employees or more, and from July 2017 for firms that employ 35-49 members of staff. For businesses with 20-34 employees, the legislation will come into force from January 2018.
Scott Weiner (pictured), supervisor on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said: “Our country’s parental leave policies are woefully behind the rest of the world, and today San Francisco has taken the lead in pushing for better family leave policies for our workers.
“We shouldn’t be forcing new mothers and fathers to choose between spending precious bonding time with their children and putting food on the table.”
Jim Wunderman, president and chief executive officer of the Bay Area Council, added: “Policies that promote gender equity are essential to a strong Bay Area economy. Our members recognise that while the addition of paid parental leave will come at a short-term expense to employers, it will yield a long-term financial and societal benefits.
“Changes to improve gender equity will require changes in what we do, and this is one of them. Paid parental leave increases the probability that employees will return to work, be more productive, and earn higher wages. That is good for business and for families.”