Miami Beach May Offer Paid Parental Leave

Among modern, industrialized countries, the U.S. is pretty much alone in not forcing employers to give paid leave to new parents. But in the last year, a handful of local municipalities in South Florida have decided to give that benefit to their own workers.

In February, Miami-Dade County approved six weeks of paid leave for new moms and dads. Six months later, the city of Doral approved a pilot program allowing for up to four weeks of paid leave.

Now, the city of Miami Beach is poised to join their ranks: Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez has proposed an ordinance that would mirror the county's rules.

"I've seen colleagues suffer when they give birth and have to be back in two weeks because they can't miss a paycheck," Rosen Gonzalez says. "We know that's such an important time."

The proposal, to be considered by the commission later today, would provide a city employee 100 percent of their wages for the first two weeks, 75 percent pay for the following two weeks, and 50 percent for the last two weeks. It would apply for all new parents — both mothers and fathers, including same-sex couples — who adopt, foster or bear a child. 

Employees have to work for the city for at least a year to be eligible. The city also made a minor change to clarify that only one leave period is allowed, regardless of the number of children entering a family. 

Rosen Gonzalez, who says she was lucky enough to be able to stay home when her three children were born, hopes the policy will help the city recruit talented workers. Private companies including Netflix, Ernst & Young, Amazon, Facebook, The Virgin Group, and, most recently, Chobani, have all rolled out paid parental leave.

On its first reading, Rosen Gonzalez's proposal had unanimous support, she says. She believes it's a natural move for the commission.  

"This is a commission that raises the minimum wage and we ban Styrofoam, we don't want plastic bags," she says. "We're very progressive and enlightened, so I don't expect any opponents."

Paid parental leave, passed by municipalities including Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Boston, has also been proposed by both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ("It's the only legislation I agree with Donald Trump on," Rosen Gonzalez says). Clinton wants to guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family leave, while Trump wants to give six weeks of paid maternity leave.