Al­der­men want to boost ma­ter­nity leave for city man­agers

Chicago Sun-Times - - POLITICS | CITY BEAT - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN City Hall Re­porter

Chicago’s 3,182 non- union em­ploy­ees would get up to 12 weeks of paid ma­ter­nity leave and up to four weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adop­tion of a child, un­der a ben­e­fit pack­age pro­posed this week by in­flu­en­tial al­der­men.

Ald. Pat O’Con­nor ( 40th), chair­man of the City Coun­cil’s Com­mit­tee on Work­force De­vel­op­ment and Ald. Mar­garet Lau­rino ( 39th), the Coun­cil’s pres­i­dent pro- tem, said it’s high time the city guar­an­tee for top man­agers ben­e­fits that have be­come stan­dard fare in pri­vate in­dus­try.

“There are re­ally no ad­vo­cates for the ben­e­fits of those in­di­vid­u­als like those folks that are union­ized. So ev­ery once in a while, you have to look at their ben­e­fit pack­age so you con­tinue . . . to at­tract young pro­fes­sion­als look­ing at the ben­e­fit pack­ages of pro­gres­sive com­pa­nies that have much bet­ter pack­ages than we do,” said O’Con­nor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Coun­cil floor leader.

“It helps us com­pete. It helps us to be a more fam­ily- friendly em­ployer. Those ex­tra weeks are good for the child’s health. It’s good for the health of the mother and the fa­ther.”

For years, City Hall had no ma­ter­nity pol­icy for its fe­male em­ploy­ees. In­stead, preg­nant women were forced to store up un­used sick days, va­ca­tion days and un­paid fam­ily leave, and then rush back to work.

When Emanuel took of­fice, one of the first things he did was to or­der a re­view of em­ployee leave poli­cies with an eye to­ward of­fer­ing paid ma­ter­nity leave to the 10,767 women who were then on the city pay­roll.

“I don’t think we can af­ford not to. It’s time for Chicago, as it re­lates to its em­ploy­ment pol­icy, to come into the 21st cen­tury,” the mayor said then. “That is the right pol­icy, both for the em­ployer and the em­ployee.”

The res­o­lu­tion that O’Con­nor and Lau­rino in­tro­duced at Wed­nes­day’s City Coun­cil meet­ing is more gen­er­ous than the six weeks of ma­ter­nity leave of­fered by the mayor.

It would al­low “up to twelve weeks paid parental leave to a birth mother to re­cover from de­liv­ery of a child; up to four weeks paid parental leave for the birth of a child . . . to a spouse or do­mes­tic part­ner of the birth mother and up to four weeks paid parental leave for the adop­tion of a child.”

The pol­icy would ap­ply to “all non- union em­ploy­ees” el­i­gi­ble for ben­e­fits un­der the Fam­ily and Med­i­cal Leave Act.

“I don’t think it’s overly gen­er­ous. It’s just a recog­ni­tion that there are com­pa­nies that are much more at­trac­tive to young pro­fes­sion­als,” O’Con­nor said. “We want to com­pete for the best of the best.”

O’Con­nor said he ex­pects the new pol­icy to be “rev­enue- neu­tral” be­cause, un­like snow plow driv­ers or 911 cen­ter call tak­ers, city man­agers don’t need to be re­placed.

Last fall, al­der­men were told that Chicago’s 911 cen­ter was still strug­gling to get a han­dle on run­away over­time be­cause 49 per­cent of call tak­ers are on “some type of ” ab­sence tied to FMLA.

“There’s a dif­fer­ence between FMLA and hav­ing a baby,” O’Con­nor said. “It’s tough to fake hav­ing a baby.”

Ald. Mar­garet Lau­rino ( 39th) and Ald. Pat O’Con­nor ( 40th)

| SUN- TIMES FILE

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