Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has proposed an extension to Seattle’s parental leave permitted to city employees. He plans to replace the current four-week policy with a new eight week paid leave for employees with infants or ill family members. This eight-week period would effectively be a minimum; the average leave could be as long as sixteen weeks when you add in vacation periods and sick days. This push for longer family leave coincides with efforts in other major American cities as employees have become increasingly vocal about their frustrations regarding insufficient paid family leave. The United States is far behind other modernized nations on this issue, which is largely due to the United States not having a set national program that addresses the percentage of wages paid for these necessary absences from work. Currently, the number of paid weeks varies by state and even by company whereas in almost all other comparable countries, a much more generous nationwide policy has been administered. Amazingly, The United States is one of only three countries in the world without a national policy on family leave.
The Seattle City Council sees this as an opportunity to be a progressive leader on this issue, an opportunity that they rarely overlook. Additionally, they hope to raise the bar for other Seattle businesses to follow the city’s lead and increase their own maternity leave periods. This policy is still in the beginning stages but according to members of the City Council, this proposal has a lot of support and should move forward smoothly.