Friday, June 12, 2015

June 15 discussion of library options, and a question: Should the city offer paid parental leave to employees?

The Monday evening, June 15 city council meeting will be devoted to a discussion of library renovation options, taking place in and around the library, taking place after a public hearing and vote on debt issuance -- debt refinancing, actually -- and a first vote on a revised employee classification and compensation system.

The public hearing is legally required, scheduled for 7 pm. Usual public comment on other matters will be at 7:30 pm. According to the city manager, refinancing a bond issued to pay for the community center will result in anticipated savings of about $160,000 over 10 years.

Paid Parental Leave?

The council discussed the proposed revised employee classification and compensation system last week. The city aims to make up for ground lost during the recession. The revision will raise pay to fair, competitive levels. We plan to phase in higher pay over the next three years.

During last week's discussion, I brought up another compensation possibility. I asked the council to direct the city manager to evaluate offering paid maternity and paternity leave (which would extend to adoptions) to city employees.

City employees already have the possibility of equivalent coverage, through employee-paid disability-leave options and donated sick leave. The city manager estimates that offering parental leave would cost the city some tens of thousands of dollars yearly. Yet "equivalent" is not "equal." I believe offering parental leave is the right thing to do. But we will pursue the matter only if there's support, hence my question to constituents:

Should the city offer paid parental leave to employees?

President Barack Obama noted, in last January's State of the Union address, "Today, we're the only advanced country on Earth that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers."

An employer can offer a benefit even if not legally required. I'm sure the city can craft a paid parental leave plan that works, at acceptable cost.

But what's your thought on the topic? Please let the city manager and council know, via e-mail to clerk@takomaparkmd.gov or comment at a council meeting.

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