Richfield has joined a small but growing list of Minnesota cities offering paid parental leave to its employees.
Starting Jan. 1, city employees who become parents, either by birth or adoption, are eligible for up to two weeks of paid leave. The City Council authorized the policy by a unanimous vote at a meeting this week.
Officials said the policy would help Richfield attract high-caliber city employees. Beyond that, it says something about the kind of city Richfield wants to be, Council Member Michael Howard said.
“It is sending a message about Richfield as a community — that we value families,” he said.
Given the national conversation about the issue, he said, actions such as Richfield’s could help pave the way for other governments and private businesses to follow suit.
“Last year I became a new parent myself,” said Howard. “I was fortunate enough to have a job that allowed me to take some time off. I was able to return to work, I think, more competent as a parent. I think everybody should have that opportunity.”
The new Richfield policy is retroactive to Jan. 1. City officials estimate that six to eight employees will use it each year, at an annual cost to the city of about $18,000.
Brooklyn Park was the first Minnesota city to offer its employees paid parental leave, starting in the fall of 2014. Since then, Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Louis Park and Hennepin County are among the governments that have decided to provide paid parental leave to employees, ranging in time from one to three weeks.
“The fact that a number of cities have done this helps communicate that value in a way that raises up the issue of paid parental leave and workplace protections in general,” Howard said. “It hopefully leads to a more productive workplace where all Minnesotans — all Americans, really — have access to this.”