Minneapolis close to increasing paid parental leave, statewide report shows lack of access

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The state’s largest city is taking a big step for improving the lives of their employees and their new families while retaining workers.

Thursday, the Minneapolis city council will vote on a policy change that would increase the city’s paid parental leave to twelve-weeks — tripling its current policy of three-weeks paid parental leave. The policy change was unanimously approved by the Policy & Government Oversight Committee.

During his 2023-24 budget proposal Monday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey highlighted why this move is important.

“Some argue this benefit will result in reduced productivity for those nine additional weeks of leave,” Mayor Frey said in his budget address, adding: “I would argue that it is a far bigger loss when an employee goes to work elsewhere, because they can’t have a baby and simultaneously worked for the city of Minneapolis.”

Under state law, all workers in Minnesota have the right to twelve-weeks of parental leave — if Minneapolis’ city council approves this change, city workers could be paid for all of that time.

“We have to do better in this country and I couldn’t be more proud of Minneapolis for stepping up to the plate,” Sarah Longacre, founder and owner of Blooma, said.

Blooma, based in Minneapolis, has supported thousands of families prepare for parenthood through education, yoga and wellness services.

Longacre is a mother herself and says quality time following a birth, or addition to a family, are crucial for both the parents and baby.

“We know that birth can be scary and bringing a human into this world can be huge,” Longacre said. “But really, [I see] the tears and the anxiety [when] people are coming into Bluma and saying ‘I’m going back to work next week.’”

Minneapolis’ move is progressive — to add context to the possible extension, the neighboring Twin City, St. Paul, offers its employees four weeks. The state of Minnesota offers state employees six weeks. Minnesota’s largest employer, Mayo Clinic, offers two-weeks and sent the following statement regarding their leave policy.

Mayo Clinic offers up to 80 hours of paid parental leave to staff who are welcoming a child through birth or adoption. Paid parental leave is one of several types of leaves of absence and benefits available to Mayo Clinic staff when expanding their family.

Just this year, the Minnesota Department of Health released a study highlight the access, or lack thereof, of leave for new mothers. A leader behind the study, and MDH’s maternal & child health epidemiologist, Dr. Mira Sheff, said a key finding is that most Minnesota don’t have access to paid leave.

“This study shows us, across all demographics, that the majority of mothers are taking unpaid leave,” Dr. Sheff said.

Information surrounding your pregnancy and parental leave rights can be found here.