Hillsborough advances proposal to offer government employees more paid parental leave
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County took steps Wednesday to extend paid parental leave for government workers.
Commissioners voted unanimously to have staff review how much paid time off other local governments and businesses offer for employees after they have or adopt a child. Under the county’s existing policy, new parents receive one week of paid leave but after must use vacation time or can take up to 12 weeks off without pay.
Commissioner Sandy Murman, who is championing this change, said the status quo demands new mothers and fathers choose between caring for an infant and financial stability.
“We should not have to force people into that decision,” Murman said.
Some commissioners, however, expressed some reservations, and wanted to first see the financial impact and what benefits other comparable workplaces offer employees before offering their endorsement.
“I just want to make sure we’re not way out line with what the private sector is doing,” Commissioner Stacy White said.
Commissioner Victor Crist said the county should also consider workplace productivity when a county employee must return to the office so soon after a new child enters their family. He drew on his own experience of having a child born two months prematurely, and how much it meant that his wife could spend time in the intensive care unit with their daughter without worrying about getting back to work.
“If a family with a new child returns back to work before that child is prepared for the family member to leave, there is a huge psychological impact and that affects productivity,” Crist said.
If approved, the county would follow in the footsteps of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who recently announced city employees would receive eight weeks of paid parental leave. The city estimated the cost at $290,000 a year.
Murman said the county should follow suit to remain competitive when attracting and retaining employees.
“They are the backbone of the county and we value them,” Murman said. “They support us every day and I think we need to support them.”