Since before becoming a City Commissioner, I have envisioned paid parental leave for all city employees. On August 2, 2017, we made it a reality.
As described by the Helena Independent Record:
Commissioner Rob Farris-Olsen instigated research into the initiative which could provide paid time off for new parents in a variety of situations. Based on preliminary cost estimates provided by the human resources department, the plan gained support from all four commissioners and Mayor Jim Smith.
On average over the past five years, eight city employees, mothers or fathers, have had children per year, according to a report from city human resources director James Fehr. Providing paid parental leave is estimated to cost the city $9,500 per week offered if the average of eight employees requesting it per year stayed the same.
The parental leave would be open not only to mothers, but also fathers, adoptees of infants, foster parents of infants and same sex couples, Fehr said.
“There are a lot of overall benefits for the city and it’s employees with this,” he said. “It’s a great tool to attract and retain the most qualified employees. It also allows parents to bond with children and come back when they’re ready. It’s definitely a trend that is picking up momentum across the country.”
After discussion, city commissioners requested further research into the costs and effects of offering four weeks of paid parental leave at an estimated cost of $38,000 per year.
“Compared to the million we spent on increased personnel costs this year, offering this seems like a pretty minor impact on our budget,” Farris-Olsen said.
If elected, I will work to ensure all Montana families don't have to sacrifice their jobs to bond with their family.