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Pima County approves paid parental leave

Posted at 10:23 PM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 21:16:18-04

Pima County is making Arizona history on parental leave.

Supervisors have approved paid parental leave for mothers and fathers of newborns or newly adopted babies.  

Pima is the first Arizona county to do this.

The new policy will give county employees who are new parents up to six weeks of leave, paid at 66% of their regular salary.  The current policy requires county employees to use sick and vacation time to make up for their days off.

"When you get back to work you don't have any extra days," said PACC employee Samantha Nellis. "I mean you have a newborn at home so when your son gets sick, all the doctors appointments that newborns have to go to it was really hard to work around my schedule afterwards".

Nellis has been working at the Pima Animal Care Center for about two years. She's expecting her second child due in August, just in time to benefit from the new policy that goes into effect on July 1st.

"I'm pretty excited about it. iI know even though it doesn't pay 100%, the 2/3's of it you get paid to use a lot less sick time a lot less vacation days and you actually get the whole sick weeks to be home."

Under the county's current policy, employees have to use sick or vacation time, request hours from the Catastrophic Leave Bank, or take an unpaid leave of absence.

The new policy gives employees 6-weeks paid leave. The county would pay for 2/3 of the employee's salary, and employees pay for the remaining 1/3 using sick or vacation time.

Opponents of the new policy say it's not a good use of taxpayer money. Supervisor Richard Elias, who proposed the idea, says that's not the case.

"It's a pretty small amount of money that's going toward this. The numbers that we talked about yesterday were about $400,000 per year, but in truth for the annual budget, it's pretty much cost neutral, in other words we've already budgeted to spend that money."

Elias added, "It was thoughtful for the tax payers, but it also included a good benefit for our employees, who frankly are in a very difficult budget year and not likely to receive any other kind of raises."