Parental leave rights increased

San Francisco voters increased parental leave rights for city government employees Tuesday.

Under the old rules, new parents who are government employees can take up to 12 weeks of parental leave. Yet, a new parent, defined as the birth, adoption or foster parenting of a child, must exhaust their sick time before being able to take advantage of the benefit. Additionally, two parents of the same child can only split the 12 weeks among themselves.

But Proposition B, Paid Parental Leave For City Employees, would allow either parent of the new child to use up to 12 weeks of parental leave apiece and they could each keep up to 40 hours of sick time following the parental leave. There was no organized opposition against the measure.

In 2002, voters approved the strongest parental leave benefits for public employees in the nation. Supervisor Katy Tang, who proposed the measure, said she wanted to do something to build the effort to make San Francisco more family friendly.

It’s not the last San Francisco will hear on the issue of parental leave rights. Pending the results of the election, Tang has said will focus on establishing a task force to explore other efforts, such as exploring mandating the benefit for the private sector.

Supporters of comprehensive parental leave say time with child creates significant health benefits for them, such as through more bonding and breastfeeding time, seeing the doctor regularly and reduced risk for postpartum depression.

The City Controller estimates that the measure would increase spending between $570,000 and $1.1 million annually.

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