Cleveland mayor proposes paid parental leave for city employees

In a joint resolution between Cleveland city councilman Charles Slife and Mayor Justin Bibb, new parents who work for the city would be eligible for up to 12 paid weeks off
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 4:20 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb proposed a new paid parental leave policy Monday for full-time city employees; it was introduced as a joint resolution with councilman Charles Slife.

“We need to be modern. We need to be more relevant,” Slife told 19 News. “We need to be competitive. What we’re seeing out of the private sector and even other governments is recognizing that when you have a baby, when you adopt, that’s a big adjustment to your family. But there’s also the need to care for that child. We should be offering our employees the ability to do so because if we don’t, we’ll lose them to people that do.”

If passed, the policy will allow for up to 500 hours of leave with base pay for new parents in birthing, adoption and guardianship, according to a release.

  • Employees will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave following a “new child event.”
  • Employees may also have up to an additional 20 hours before the event.

Grounds for leave may include parental obligations ranging from medical appointments to meetings for the guardianship process, according to a release.

The leave may be used intermittently for individual needs. Employees who experience still birth or miscarriage will be eligible for three weeks of leave.

Eligibility for the proposed paid leave is contingent on 30 days of continuous service, however the policy will only be available to full-time, non-union employees, if passed.

The city intends to include this new benefit to union employees as negotiations for bargaining agreements continue, according to a release.

The city currently employs about 7,400 full-time employees, with 5,400 full-time union employees, according to the mayor’s office.

In an interview with 19 News, Slife estimated the total cost of paid leave would be $1.2 million per year. He was quick to point out the city’s overall budget is about $1.6 billion.

“And then the benefits of retaining workers and productivity... there are two sides of that equation,” he said.

Cleveland follows behind the cities of Dayton and Cincinnati to establish paid parental leave.

“We hope other organizations in our region, both public and private sector, will follow our lead to support our workforce the best we can so that Cleveland can become an even better place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Bibb.

The city’s release cited a study from 2018 stating improved employee retention, productivity and morale following California’s parental leave policy.

“I think it’s very important,” said Jamaica Williams, a mother of a nearly 2-year-old girl.

She told 19 News parental leave is a contributing factor when she’s looking for work.

“I was kind of blindsided when I had my daughter. She was two months early but they didn’t have anything set for leave so I had to pay for everything. Because she was born early, I was behind. It was kind of stressful on top of paying bills,” Williams said. “After giving birth, you’re supposed to relax and have that time. We couldn’t have that time. It was like we were working full time on top of being a parent full time.”

There’s no official timetable for when council will put the legislation to a vote.