San Francisco became the first city in the United States that will provide six weeks of paid parental leave to both mothers and father of straight and same-sex couples, and to anyone who births or adopts a child. This new law will become effective beginning January 1,2017 for companies with more than 50 employees. The existing policy regarding parental leave, before this new ordinance was signed into law on April 5, dictated that employees were eligible to receive 55 percent of their salary for up to for up to six weeks as part of California’s Paid Family Leave program.
However, this new ordinance makes employers responsible for making up the difference. This means that employers will have to pay employees on parental leave the other 45 percent of their salary. This new ordinance applies to employees who have worked for their employer for at least 180 days and for at least eight hours a week. However, employees must repay their benefit if they leave the company they’re working for within 90 days of returning to work. There is also a possibility that all vacation days must be used up before the paid leave would begin to apply.
Currently, only California, New Jersey, Washington, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia provide any benefits at all regarding family care-related absences from work. San Francisco is the first region in the U.S. to provide full paid leave. We can all agree that this new law is very much needed and we applaud its passage. However, the city of San Francisco passing the law is only the first step towards what many other countries consider to be the norm. According to the International Labor Organization, the United States and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in their list that do not currently offer full paid parental leave. Not only do we hope for more states to adopt this new policy, we also believe this law should be implemented on a federal level.
This law could also play an essential role in eradicating the notion that women have to choose between having a career over being a mother, each of which are important and valuable in their unique ways. With the six weeks of paid leave, working mothers can depend on the necessary help from their employers as opposed to feeling the pressure to return to work as soon as their child is born or adopted.
Furthermore, we praise the fact that this new policy applies to not just heterosexual couples, but also to same- sex couples and single parents. This policy rightfully keeps in mind that families are dissimilar in regards to both finances and appearances, and it supports every type of new parent.
American workers deserve the right to take care of their children without worrying about their jobs and maintaining financial stability, especially given the fact that different families experience different levels of income. Paid parental leave should not be considered a revolutionary idea, particularly when taking into account the very large number of countries who have longer parental paid leave than the United States. This law will help the average person create a better, healthier balance between work and family considering the fact that the first month of a newborn’s life is so fragile. It should be more of a legislative priority.