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San Francisco approves paid leave for parents of newborns

By Nathan Salant     Apr 6, 2016 in Lifestyle
San Francisco - To all the benefits of being a new parent in a place like San Francisco, the city's Board of Supervisors just added another: fully paid time off.
City supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to require businesses with 20 employees or more to provide up to six weeks of time off at full pay for new parents who want the time to bond with their new family member.
The requirement makes San Francisco the first jurisdiction in the United States to mandate fully paid leave for new parents, according to the Associated Press.
The measure still must be voted on a second time next week and approved by Mayor Ed Lee before it becomes law in California's fourth-largest city.
"The vast majority of workers in this country have little or no access to paid parental leave, and that needs to change," Supervisor Scott Wiener, who proposed the measure, said Tuesday before the vote.
Very few workers in the United States are entitled to such a benefit, except for some government and tech sector workers
But the idea appears to be catching on around the country as larger companies improve their benefit packages to attract skilled workers.
San Francisco-based Twitter has announced a new 20-week parental leave benefit beginning May 1, the AP said.
The issue faced stiff opposition when it was first proposed, with small businesses complaining about the cost of city mandates including sick leave, health insurance and the $15 minimum wage that became law in California on Monday.
San Francisco adopted the $15 minimum in 2014.
"They don't necessarily have the resources, they can't absorb the increases in cost, and they feel like it's kind of relentless, it's one thing after the next," said Dee Dee Workman of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
Workers are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under federal law, with California, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York providing partial pay.
The U.S. is the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn't mandate paid leave.
California allows workers with babies to receive 55 percent of their pay for up to the first six weeks under a new state insurance program funded by workers; businesses with at least 20 employees to pay the other 45 percent under the San Francisco measure that will be phased in beginning in 2017.
"I do think employers should be pitching in more," said Kim Turner, a San Francisco nonprofit attorney who advocated for the law.
"I think we all need more help; it's just so hard to make ends meet with little ones in the house," she said.
The pro-business Bay Area Council, whose members include Google and Facebook, applauded passage of the parental leave measure.
"Paid parental leave increases the probability that employees will return to work, be more productive, and earn higher wages," said Jim Wunderman, the group's president and CEO.
"That is good for business and for families," he said.
More about San Francisco, Leave, family leave, Paid, board of supervisors
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