Marietta approves paid maternity leave for employees

- The city of Marietta is now the second municipality in the metro Atlanta area to offer paid maternity leave to employees.

City council members unanimously approved the new policy at their monthly meeting Wednesday evening.

“I think it's the right thing and the right time for us as the city to demonstrate the value that they play for our city and how important it is to be able to be--to raise a family and also be a professional woman,” said Councilman Stuart Fleming, who proposed the policy.

An employee must have worked for the city for at least a year in order to qualify for the four paid weeks of maternity leave. The new policy does not offer leave to fathers.

Marietta resident Amber Reid was in the military when she gave birth to her daughter eight years ago. She said she had paid maternity leave, which was important to both give her time to heal and to bond with her new baby.

“Not having that time, and women having to take it off without paid leave, could be a burden on a lot of mothers,” said Reid.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, employers must hold an employee's job for 12 weeks, but the federal law does not require employers to continue paying them during that time.

The city of Atlanta became the first in the area to enact a paid family leave policy last July. They offer six weeks of paid leave for primary care givers and two weeks for non-care givers--male or female.

Councilman Fleming said the new policy will not cost Marietta any money.  The city employs about 160 women, only a fraction of whom would take maternity leave each year. 

“We budget on an annual basis for employees to work full years.  So to the extent that they were to take several weeks off, but also still be compensated, the cost estimate would be--or the incremental cost would be zero,” explained Fleming.

The new policy went into effect immediately. A city spokesperson said the first employee to benefit from the paid time off is due in just a few weeks.

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