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Lakewood Passes Paid Parental Leave Ordinance

Lakewood City Council approved an ordinance to allow paid parental leave for city employees this week. And one Cleveland City Council member is hoping Cleveland is next.

The Lakewood ordinance provides 12 weeks of paid leave for the birthing parent. Non-birthing parents are eligible for two weeks of paid bonding leave.

The legislation was crafted using gender-neutral language to be more inclusive, said Lakewood Councilman Tristan Rader. Rather than using terms like “mother” and “father,” he said, the city opted to use “birthing” and “non-birthing.”

“Members of the LGBTQ community spoke up and we made that change,” said Rader, who worked with now-Mayor Meghan George to craft a measure like this a few years ago, when George was an at-large council member. “It’s very important to speak in terms of birthing parents.”

The overall goal is to increase equity in the workplace, Rader said. City officials the policy will increase job retention, he said, particularly with women.

“We’re having some issues in some of our departments, finding qualified folks who want to work in this sector,” Rader said. “We’re hoping that this also leads to better retention of folks staying in the workforce.”

Some members of Cleveland City Council are interested in putting a similar policy in place, said Ward 17 Councilman Charles Slife, who is asking Cleveland officials for data and details on what such an ordinance might need to consider, such as overall cost.

“Now I know there’s a cost to everything,” Slife said. “But there’s also a cost to losing employees who are seeking employment elsewhere because they feel the benefits packages are more competitive.”

An updated parental leave policy would help keep Cleveland’s municipal government competitive in its employment opportunities, Slife said. For families and new parents, he said, policies like parental leave and childcare are top priority.

“I think it’s important for us to succeed as a city that we’re retaining workers and attracting top talent, and paid parental leave, increasingly so, is a benefit that parents seek out,” Slife said.

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