ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta announced it will become the first municipality in the mammoth metropolitan region to offer family maternity and paternity leave during a roundtable discussion that included Mayor Kasim Reed and President Obama’s senior White House adviser.
More than 250 business and community leaders participated in an armchair conversation about the importance of paid sick and family leave with Reed and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Atlanta is one of twelve cities in 2015 to host the “Lead on Leave” Tour, a national conversation led by the White House and the U.S. Department of Labor highlighting cities, states and businesses that are leading the way in implementing paid leave policies.
On July 1, Atlanta became the first municipal government in the metropolitan region to offer paid family leave for city employees. The adoption of paid family leave will allow a primary care giver to receive six weeks of paid time, and a non-care giver to receive two weeks of paid time, which will run concurrently with the city’s current Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policy, and will ensure no income disruption due to the growth of their family. The paid leave will be made available for use in increments or as one continuous leave to provide flexibility based on the needs of the employee and their family.
“In today’s global economy, working men and women find it harder and harder to find the right balance between work and family,” said Reed. “I am proud to say that the City of Atlanta is leading on this issue by making paid family leave a reality for our workforce.”
In January, President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would give every worker in America the ability to earn paid sick time. In his FY2016 budget, he also proposed $2 billion in new funds to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave programs. The Department of Labor will build on previous grants by using $1 million in existing funds to help states and municipalities conduct feasibility studies on paid leave. In order to lead by example, the President also took steps to modernize the Federal workplace by signing a Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child and called on Congress to pass legislation giving federal employees an additional six weeks of paid parental leave.
“Since the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has focused on how we can create real, lasting security for the middle class by strengthening our nation’s workplaces to better support working families. Paid leave, to ensure that workers have the flexibility they need to take care of themselves and their families, is a critical part of this effort,” said Jarrett.
“Support and momentum for policies that reflect a 21st century workforce is building across the country, and Atlanta is a city leading by example. We are so pleased to see Atlanta taking action to ensure their workforce has access to paid leave– empowering workers, improving the bottom line for companies, and ultimately strengthening our economy.”
Reed added: “The United States is one of only three developed countries today that does not offer paid maternity leave. It’s time for us to get on the right side of this issue.”