An estimated 56,000 state employees will now be able to take paid parental leave. Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Thursday granting eight weeks of paid leave to state employees who give birth and four weeks to other parents taking care of a newborn, adopted or foster child.
Cooper said, “It will help reduce gender inequality in our workplaces, and it will help our state attract and retain a strong workforce.”
Current state policy allows parents to use sick, vacation or another form of built up time off referred to as bonus time, or parents can take time off without pay. Eligible full time employees who’ve worked at the state for a year, will get their regular pay while on leave starting after Sept. 1. According to the order, part-time employees will get a pro-rated amount.
Dr. Susan Mims is the President of the NC Pediatric Society. She said, “Paid leave is proven to promote increased breastfeeding, higher rates of vaccination, and improved maternal mental health and is a big win for babies and parents, especially in the early weeks and months of life.”
Democrats introduced a bill to create a paid parental leave policy this session. But it didn’t get out of committee.
This order doesn’t cover all state employees – it only extends to those working at cabinet agencies under the governor’s oversight. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Washington and New York mandate paid family leave.
Cooper estimates this policy will cost $3.5 million annually, with his agencies absorbing the expenses from current funds.