Newburgh Heights first city in the nation to offer paid parental leave for employees

Newburgh Heights offers paid parental leave
Published: Nov. 7, 2016 at 9:30 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2016 at 7:19 PM EST
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NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Shortly after having his first child, Newburgh Heights Mayor, Trevor Elkins started thinking about how parents could get more time to spend with a new baby.
Together with his City Council and Law Department, he passed a parental leave policy in May that allows for six months parental leave for all full-time employees, at full pay.  It's the first policy of its kind in the country.

"I think we're moving in the direct where we're going to provide this in a more robust fashion across the board," said Elkins.

He is proud to be a trailblazer, helping create a better work-life balance.  Other civic leaders across the nation now want to know how they're doing it.

"Phone calls we got from council members, mayors, select men, aldermen…from all over the country was off the charts. I couldn't keep up with
it," he said.

The policy even got the attention of the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary, Tom Perez, who paid the small municipality a visit to highlight what they're doing.

With an annual budget of about $2.5 million how are they doing it? 

"It's economy of scale. Even with 15-16 full-time employees, the reality is if one or two of those employees were to become pregnant or take advantage of the benefit, a father takes the time off, it does have a financial impact," Elkins said.

He says they've budgeted for an annual impact of $40,000 a year, and if no one takes advantage of it, the money will roll over.  It will come from the general fund, generated from things like property/income taxes, civil fines and police revenue.

In a city of only 2500 people and the mayor says it's hard to get and keep talented people because of their middle of the road pay structure. 

But he believes this policy will improve recruitment, retention and employee morale.

"As a department head, I'm glad we can offer that to our employees because time off for your family is extremely important," said Police Chief John Majoy.

Coming up in 2017, a female member of the police department will be the first to take advantage of the six-month leave.

"She's going to be a first-time mother, she's going to really appreciate the experience, once it happens," he said.

Chief Majoy says it won't count against sick time and they'll allocate resources like their part-timer employees during the six-month leave.

"We don't mind being a trendsetter. Just take it as it comes.  When someone leaves, someone's got to fill the gap," Majoy said.

City leadership believes this policy is powerful.

"You don't want to be thinking about what's going on with your child.  If you're staring at somebody who has some bad intentions, you can't
be distracted," said Elkins.

"You want your officers to be in a 100% frame of mind to go out there and do the job, mentally and physically," Majoy said.

"It's really impossible to put a price tag on how valuable this could be to a new family," said Elkins.

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