Metro Nashville, the joint government of the city and Davidson County, Tenn., unanimously approved paid family leave for its employees last week.
The policy, which went into effect immediately, will give more than 10,000 Metro employees six weeks of paid time off to give birth, adopt a child or care for an immediate family member, like a child, parent or spouse.
It includes maternity and paternity leave, and is available to employees who have worked for Metro government for at least 6 months.
“No parent, spouse, son or daughter should have to choose between providing care to their loved ones in their time of need or being forced to go without pay or quit their job,” says Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. “Paid family leave will help to ensure our Metro employees don’t have to make that choice while also helping Metro government recruit and retain great public servants.”
Previously, Metro employees did not have access to any paid family leave.
There is no cost estimate for the program, but Metro’s human resources department says it will conduct a cost-benefit analysis for future budgeting.
“As the fiscal year progresses (it began July 1), we have asked departments to cover their costs within existing resources,” says Michael Cass, spokesman for the mayor’s office. “Should that become unsustainable, we’ll take another look at it.”
Nashville is the latest city to give paid time off to its employees, although the benefit will not be extended to the private sector.
“Because Tennessee constitutionally bans any tax on income, a mandatory employee contribution to a paid family leave program would not be permitted,” Cass says. “Therefore funding will come from the general fund, as is standard for all Metro benefits.”
In December 2016, Washington, D.C., moved to impose a city-wide payroll tax to fund universal paid leave for District employees. The vote created tensions between the D.C. Council and District employers. New York City and San Francisco have universal paid leave policies as well.
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