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Paid parental leave expands in Missouri to include more state employees

Missouri House and Five of Six Statewide Elected Officials Implement Paid Parental Leave 

KANSAS CITY – Five out of six statewide executive branch officials in Missouri, along with the House of Representatives and four independent executive agencies have now adopted paid parental leave policies for their state employees, Women’s Foundation announced today.

Women’s Foundation has been working to educate public officials on the importance of paid family and medical leave and encouraging them to extend the benefit to their employees.

In March, Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order granting paid parental leave to employees in the governor’s office and in agencies controlled by his appointees. Since then, four other statewide elected officials and the House of Representatives have followed suit. As a result, employees of nearly every state agency are now able to take paid time off following the birth or adoption of a child.

“Our research has shown that paid family leave benefits families, employers and the economy, so we’re thrilled that Missouri officials are offering this family-friendly benefit to state employees,” said Wendy Doyle, President & CEO of Women’s Foundation. “No one should have to choose between caring for a child and paying the bills, and we thank Governor Greitens, Speaker Todd Richardson and all the officials who have stepped up to provide parental leave to their employees. Paid leave makes for strong families and strong businesses, so we look forward to working with legislators to pass an earned family and medical leave law that will give all Missourians the ability to care for a child or loved-one without losing their income.”

To date, paid parental leave policies have been adopted by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, for state employees in executive branch agencies, as well as by Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, State Treasurer Eric Schmitt, Attorney General Josh Hawley, and the Missouri House of Representatives. Four independent executive agencies governed by independent commissions have also adopted paid leave policies: the Missouri Department of Mental Health, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri Department of Higher Education, and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Last year, Women’s Foundation released preliminary research on the benefits of paid leave in partnership with the University of Missouri Truman School Institute of Public Policy, which found that paid family leave reduces reliance on public assistance and encourages women to stay in the workforce.

This research has helped inform administrative and legislative solutions that would expand paid family leave options for women and their families. For example, during the 2017 legislative session, Women’s Foundation supported the Missouri Earned Family and Medical Leave Act (House Bill 1059), which would grant eligible employees up to 8 weeks of leave per 12 month period to bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill family member, to care for their own serious illness, or to “assume any familial responsibility because a [family member] is on or called to active duty.” Employees would contribute 0.25% of their weekly pay beginning in 2019 and would be able to receive the 67% wage replacement leave in 2020.