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Gallatin County Approves Paid Parental Leave

Gallatin County is the second Montana county to offer paid parental leave to employees.
Tim Evanson
Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Gallatin County is the second Montana county to offer paid parental leave to employees.

Gallatin County commissioners voted unanimously on Feb. 4 to offer up to six weeks of paid parental leave to county employees. It’s the second Montana county to offer the benefit.

Commissioners cited a need to improve recruitment and retention efforts, decrease the gender wage gap and set a new local employment standard in their three-to-zero approval of the policy.

It extends to full- and part-time county employees who have birthed or adopted a child themselves or with their spouse or domestic partner beginning January 1 of this year.

The move comes on the heels of U.S. Congress authorizing 12 weeks of paid family leave for federal workers late last year.

State lawmakers considered a bill last session backed by Representative Moffie Funk, a Democrat from Helena, that would have created a new state-run insurance fund to cover up to 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave for all employees. Detractors, including the Montana Chamber of Commerce, said the program costs would be burdensome to smaller employers. The bill died in committee.

Federal and state policies allow for up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. But a state Department of Labor and Industry public opinion survey from 2015 showed roughly five percent of employers offered family or parental leave to all employees. Most Montana businesses didn’t offer any.

Missoula County adopted a six-week paid parental leave policy in 2016.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.
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