Special to The Dallas Examiner
The city of DeSoto will offer full-time city employees with at least a year of service time three paid weeks off after the birth of a child. This policy goes into effect Oct. 1, making it the first city in North Texas to guarantee paid parental leave for city employees.
Councilwoman Candice Quarles proposed this benefit for all city employees because she believed it would fix a broken system where new parents are forced to piece together vacation, sick and unpaid time off from work to get a bare minimum of time with their newborns.
As a mother, this issue was personal for Quarles. She said she and her husband enjoyed bonding time with their daughter when she was born, but there were complications. Quarles was restricted to bed rest and had to use most of her sick and vacation time before she was born prior to the birth.
“Even if all goes well in a pregnancy, we should allow new moms and dads the all-important time to care, nurture and bond with their child. Anything less is putting our women and families at risk,” she stated.
Before the policy was passed, many testimonies were given in support of the policy including local elected official Candace Valenzuela, a school board trustee in Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District.
“Children are not a luxury item; children are an investment in the long-term care and growth of a city. If your city employees are setting an example for that, you’re going to have sustainable growth for generations” Valenzuela stated.
- Three weeks of leave for all employees.
- Employees are eligible after one year of full-time service with the city of DeSoto.
- Parental leave is separate from sick or vacation and not required to exhaust the other PTO.
- In the case of a married couple, both parents will be allowed to take the designated time off, as long as the time is not concurrently.
Quarles now urges other leaders to follow suit to support the modern workforce.
The United States remains the only country in the developed world that does not mandate employers offer paid leave for new mothers – 25% of women in the U.S. have to go back to work in just two weeks to make ends meet, and only 14% of civilian workers have access paid parental leave.
“Most women do not have enough PTO for the full 12 weeks allowable by FMLA law and are exhausting all of their leave balances and receiving no pay to spend time with their newborns,” Quarles explained.
Research shows paid parental leave is necessary for working families and benefits both families and businesses through estimated costs, potential savings and anticipated outcomes. This is backed up by the nation’s first statewide paid leave program in California.
Paid family leave helps employers because it can increase employee morale, productivity and labor force attachment once new parents return to work. It has a positive effect on infant and maternal health, reducing the rates of infant mortality and stress and depression for mothers, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
“As a mother of a toddler and having spent 12 years in human resources, I know that new mothers are making the hard choice of going back to work sooner than ready because they cannot afford to stay home with a new baby,” Quarles shared. “Parents should not have to choose between a paycheck or leaving a newborn child. It’s 2019. We can do better, and we will do better in the city of DeSoto.”