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Increased paid parental leave

Published (3/7/2008)
By Mike Cook
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An employer giving an employee time off for a child’s birth or adoption could receive state funds.

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls), HF2676 would offer reimbursement to employers providing qualified paid parental leave.

Current law requires employers to grant up to six weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

“It’s a paid parenting leave to the extent that, in essence, the employer pays one-third, the state pays one-third and the family, actually in essence, pays the other third to themselves,” Mullery said. The bill would require the leave to be at least six consecutive weeks, and reimbursement would be capped at $250 per week.

The bill was held over Feb. 28 by the House Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy and Finance Division for possible inclusion in its omnibus bill. It has no Senate companion.

Mullery said the bill is based on a policy used at ECM Publishing, owned by former Gov. Elmer Andersen.

“He was very concerned with the development of young children, and put forward a plan to his employees,” said Jim Koppel, director of the Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota. “He basically pays 40 percent of the average salary over the last three years you worked at the company. You have to be there a minimum of two or three years before you’re eligible.”

Koppel said a goal is to make a situation whereby parents who want to stay home for up to 26 weeks with a new child would be able to do so without sacrificing too much in lost salary. “There’s really no financial way that many parents can now take that time off and be at home,” he said.

No fiscal note was provided, but Mullery said one has been requested.

Amy Brenengen, director of the Office on the Economic Status of Women, said this would create retention and loyalty to businesses.

“This is voluntary; it shares the cost among three different entities,” she said. “It’s good for families, it’s good for women and it’s good for men.”

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