New Orleans city workers now eligible for paid maternity, parental leave

New parents working for the city of New Orleans will be entitled to paid parental leave, rather than having to solicit “leave donations” from co-workers, thanks to a new set of rules approved by the Civil Service Commission Monday (Dec. 15).

The new rules will allow new mothers, whether adoptive or biological, eight weeks of paid leave. Husbands or domestic partners will be allowed two weeks of parental leave.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s chief administrative officer, Andy Kopplin, hailed the change. “We think it’s a very progressive system that will match what’s offered in the private sector,” he said.

The change was first announced in October, when Landrieu presented his budget to the City Council. In a brief interview after the presentation, Kopplin described the need for a formal maternity system.

There was no formal leave system in the past, he said. Mothers simply used whatever paid leave they were able to build up or used paid leave donated to them by other staff members.

This put mothers who hadn’t been with the city long enough to build up leave in the awkward position of soliciting their colleagues for “donated” leave in order to stay home with their newborn children and still get a pay check, Kopplin said.

The Civil Service on Monday briefly considered postponing a decision on the measure for 30 days, in keeping with its tradition of allowing new rules to lay over a month so members of the public have an opportunity to review them.

A visibly pregnant Theresa Becher, who works in the legal department, came forward to ask them to reconsider. “I would like to know that my mortgage and everything is taken care of while I’m out,” said Becher, who said her child is due to be born Dec. 27.

The commission opted to approve the law immediately.

Federal law requires employers to allow new mothers and fathers to take up to 12 weeks of leave, but it does not require employers to pay them during that period.
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