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Should state, federal government offer paid parental leave to its employees? P.1

We have previously spoken on this blog about the recent trend in the corporate world of improve family and medical leave offerings for employees. These improvements vary in their specifics, but all seek to bump up the protections established under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the various state laws. As we’ve noted, the Minnesota Parental Leave Act requires employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for employees to attend to the birth or adoption of a child.

Companies are free to offer better deals for their employees, of course, but many choose not to do so for obvious reasons. Those that choose to do so have received praise, and rightly so, but should the government be able to offer similar additional protections for its employees? Governor Dayton thinks so.

Earlier this month, Governor Dayton proposed that state employees should be able to receive up to six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. The proposal would not provide for sick time and leave for the care of ill or elderly parents or relatives, though Dayton is hopeful that lawmakers will step up to expand the law.

In presenting the idea, Dayton said he would set aside $6 million to fund the benefits as part of a budget bill to be introduced early in this year’s legislative session. At present, there are 35,000 state employees, and all would be eligible for paid leave. It is estimated that around 500 would make use of the leave per year.

In our next post, we’ll continue discussing this topic by looking at a recent paid leave proposal at the federal level.