San Francisco mandates fully paid parental leave

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Washington, April 22 (IANS) San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has signed a paid parental leave ordinance, making it the first in the US that requires full pay for parents on leave to care for their new babies.

Current California state law allows partially paid leave for new mothers and fathers who have paid into a state disability insurance. They receive 55 percent of their full salaries for six weeks, with the money coming from the state disability programme, Xinhua news agency reported.

Thursday’s new ordinance, which was unanimously approved by the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors early this month, is a supplement to the state regulations.

It gives new parents six weeks of fully paid leave, with the remaining 45 percent to be paid by employers which have at least 20 employees.

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The rules will go into effect on January 1, 2017, for businesses with more than 50 workers, and one year later for those with at least 20 or more workers.

The paid parental leave ordinance is the latest pro-worker move adopted by San Francisco, where the living cost is among the highest in the country.

The city approved a plan in 2014 to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years.

“We have accomplished things together to ensure that parents and children can succeed in this very expensive city, to make sure they have the resources and the ability to be successful,” Lee said.

He said the new law provides the basic caring and support that should be available to every family in the country.

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The US is behind the rest of the world in terms of maternity leave policy. It is the only advanced country that does not have a national law providing paid maternity leave.

A federal law allows new parents to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they work in a company with 50 or more employees.

Some states, however, provide expanded parental leave policies. In addition to California, New Jersey and Rhode Island also mandate parental leave with partial pay.

New York will implement similar leave policy starting in 2018.

As a means to attract and retain workers, better benefits for parents are offered by many enterprises, including big-name tech companies in Silicon Valley.

San Francisco-based Twitter announced this month to give employees 20 weeks of paid leave starting in May.

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