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Council to Look at Offering Paid Maternity and Paternity Leave for City Employees

At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo would like Boston to be the second city in the U.S. to offer its employees paid maternity and paternity leaves.

Boston City Councilor At-Large Felix Arroyo will hold a future hearing to examine the feasibility of instituting paid maternity and paternity leave for city employees.

Arroyo introduced his hearing at Wednesday's meeting. "Boston could continue to lead in workers' rights... [Employees] either take sick time or find outside care and use up their vacation time. Or come to work quicker. I don’t think this is something working families in Boston should be faced with."

The Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) passed in 1972 offers eight weeks unpaid covering both men and women. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a federal law that guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid job leave, but only covers employees who have been with the company for 1 year and 1,250 hours.

New Boston union contracts offer 12 months of unpaid leave, during which employees must use paid time off after the first eight weeks, as provided by the MMLA, said Arroyo. 

Before being elected, Arroyo was the political director for SEIU Local 615, and has long been a supporter of workers' rights. He added that only one city in the U.S. offers paid maternity and paternity leave to its employees, which Chicago adopted under Mayor Rahn Emanuel in 2011. Chicago offers four paid (six for C-section) weeks to women maternity leave after giving birth, adoptive parents receive two weeks paid, and partners and spouses receive one week.

The order was referred to the Committee of Labor, Youth Affairs and Health, which Arroyo chairs.  

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