Orange County

Proposed Orange County budget offers paid parental leave

Bonnie Hammersley
Bonnie Hammersley Contributed

Orange County employees who become parents could get six weeks off with pay if the commissioners approve a proposed policy change.

County Manager Bonnie Hammersley included the new paid parental leave policy in her 2017-18 recommended budget. It would pay for any county employee to take six weeks off after having a child, adopting a child, or becoming the guardian of a new family member.

The policy keeps Orange County competitive when looking for new workers, Hammersley said. She doesn’t expect the policy to affect a lot of employees.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 guarantees a minimum of 12 weeks unpaid leave to mothers caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, but paid time off is becoming an important benefit that local governments can offer to compete with the private sector.

Orange County’s Employee Advocacy Roundtable suggested adding the policy, Deputy County Manager Travis Myren said.

“One of the threats that they identified was to the extent that benefit packages are uneven among public sector employers ... one of those imbalances can make the difference in an employee’s choice to leave or not,” Myren said. “We really looked at it from a competitive standpoint.”

Morrisville recently joined a list of Triangle governments offering their employees six weeks of paid parental leave. Others include Hillsborough, Wake County, Cary and Rolesville. Durham County provides 12 weeks of paid leave.

Apex considered paid leave but rejected it earlier this yearr. It’s still under consideration in Chatham County, Chapel Hill and the city of Durham.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

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