On Wednesday, Minnesota became the fourth state in the nation to offer state employees paid parental leave. Gov. Mark Dayton approved the plan that allows new parents to take up to six weeks to be with their newborn or adopted child.
Licensed childcare facilities in Minnesota don’t accept infants younger than six weeks. Joe Sullivan and his wife are both state workers and members of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. They had a child this summer, and Joe said paid parental leave will make a big difference for them in those first critical months.
“She can stay with the baby a little bit longer, and it will help us be able to shop around more and find a daycare for the baby,” Sullivan said. “And it just gives her more time to bond with the child.”
Benefit could be taken away
But the benefit may not last long. The program went into effect on an interim basis only, pending full legislative approval.
With Republicans taking control of the state Senate in January, many workers fear that approval could be denied. But Sullivan said he remains hopeful.
“This is a very bipartisan issue. It affects the quality of life of children and their families,” he argued. “Even Donald Trump, the current Republican president electe, supports paid maternity leave.”
Currently, the United States and Papua New Guinea are the only countries in the world that do not offer paid maternity leave.
Several Minnesota cities and many private employers already offer paid parental leave, which could draw away good state employees and drive up worker-replacement costs. And, Sullivan added, since it only applies to new parents, offering the benefit would be cost effective.
“At the end of the day I don’t think this is something that’s going to have a very large financial impact in the big scheme of things,” Sullivan said; “but it’ll really be a great benefit for a lot of people.”
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