hands cradle a baby

At the February 16 New Orleans City Council meeting, the Council adopted a motion granting up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all City employees who have been at their job for one year or more. This motion grants official and material recognition to the role that adoptive parents, fathers, domestic partners, and spouses play in their new child’s life. With unqualified support in the Council chambers from the public, the motion passed.

Dear Council members, I write as a parent, a City worker and a member of the New Orleans CIty Workers’ Organizing Committee to ask that you please vote yes for all 4,000-plus City employees. An expanded paid parental leave policy could help recruit and retain City employees in a time when we’re struggling to fill positions. Additionally, paid family leave can help with child development, reduce infant mortality, increase gender equality in the home, reduce the gender pay gap, and improve other social and health outcomes for children and parents. New Orleans City Workers’ Organizing Committee has been very concerned with employee retention, increasing cost of living, and widening social inequality in our city and country. We supported increasing the base pay for City workers and City contractors to $15 per hour and we support expanding annual leave for City employees to 20 days.1Lee A., New Orleans Workers’ Organizing Committee

This policy is in line with the current policy at the federal level and reflects that a mounting body of evidence shows the value of this time for both parent and baby. Research has shown how important early childhood development is for children to achieve this [reading] milestone. Providing this time to develop secure attachment with their child without having to worry how they will pay bills forms a critical foundation for the child’s success. I wish I had gotten to spend this time with my children after their birth. Too often dads just don’t get this time even though it could make such a difference for mom, the baby, and the parents’ relationship in what can be such a joyful but also stressful time following the birth.2Hamilton E. J., New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

On behalf of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, I encourage you to vote yes on the expansion of paid family leave for the City of New Orleans’ employees. In Orleans Parish, well over 50% of households don’t earn enough for their basic survival budget. We all know people who are [struggling], workers [who] keep our city clean, fix our streets and make our quality of life possible, yet do not earn enough to support their own families. Households are forced to make tough choices, such as choosing between quality childcare and paying their rent, which have long-term consequences for our entire city.3Michael W., United Way of Southeast Louisiana 

An abundance of evidence shows multiple benefits of paid parental leave, including family health, workplace performance, employee retention, and overall organizational health. This also has a major positive effect on the economy. Let’s keep New Orleans moving in the right direction as a leader for paid family leave.4Keith L., Clover (Kingsley House)

To follow up on this issue, you can email your City councilmembers. To submit a public comment, follow instructions at Interested in reading all comments after a meeting? You can email your councilmember or file a public records request.

illustration by Sadie Wiese

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