Research shows children and their families do better with paid leave. Offering paid parental leave to state workers makes Delaware a more attractive employer and offers a long-overdue benefit to workers. Paid parental leave will support state workers and their families – and help us recruit and retain employees.
Lori Sebastian, a third-grade teacher at Brick Mill Elementary, talks about her experience advocating for Delaware’s 12-week paid parental leave law for state workers and teachers, which took effect April 1, 2019.
These are among the many challenges facing all new parents. While caring for a newborn or adopted child, new mothers and fathers shouldn’t also have to worry about missing their next paycheck.
That’s why, last year, the General Assembly passed – and I signed – a new law offering 12 weeks of paid parental leave for mothers and fathers in the state workforce, including educators. The law, which takes effect this week, covers parents of newborns and parents adopting a child 6-years-old or younger.
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not require paid maternity leave, and one of only a handful of high-wealth nations that does not require paid paternity or parental leave. Private sector companies, including many in Delaware, have begun to see the value of these policies. JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Bank of America and others offer substantial parental leave benefits to recruit and retain good employees.
Delaware state employees educate our children, maintain our roads, care for the most vulnerable Delawareans, and keep our communities safe. We should invest in them, and make sure we’re attracting the most competitive, qualified candidates for the job.
For Delaware’s economy to thrive, we need a strong and stable workforce. To that end, it’s important to recognize how Delaware workers – and their needs – are changing. As Governor, I’ve seen these evolving demographics and needs in our state workforce, and we have worked hard to make sure our policies demonstrate how important it is that our employees have the support they need. Among many things, that includes giving employees the ability to provide and care for their growing families.
Over the next several years, the fact is that more than 40 percent of state employees will become eligible for retirement. To maintain our high quality state workforce, it’s critical we offer benefits that will help us recruit and retain talented Delawareans into the business of public service.
Parental leave has been demonstrated to help retain employees, especially women. Women with access to leave are more likely to return to work following the birth of a child, compared to women without access to leave. It’s essential that we provide the support necessary for moms to come back to work, especially in high-turnover, hard-to-fill professions that are dominated by women, such as education and nursing.
These are Delawareans caring for patients in our 24-hour state facilities, and teaching children in our highest-needs schools. It is imperative that we offer competitive benefits that will help us attract and retain the best candidates for these important positions. That will pay dividends for every Delawarean who is invested in the future of our state.
Research also tells us that offering parental leave could make Delawareans healthier. Parental leave is associated with lower rates of mortality for infants and young children, and infants are more likely to be breastfed and receive important immunizations and medical checkups. It can also reduce depressive symptoms in mothers.
These health benefits could contribute to improving Delaware’s overall health outcomes, and help address rising health care spending. Fathers who take paid leave are more likely to be involved in their child’s care over the long term; and when fathers take paid leave, women’s work opportunities and wages increase over time. Moreover, our children deserve every chance at the best start in life, and parental leave is an important tool in providing that chance.
It’s my sincere hope that as the State of Delaware leads on leave, more Delaware employers will recognize the importance of parental leave and follow our example. Providing employees with parental leave is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do – for our workforce and our future.
Please visit the Department of Human Resources website for eligibility requirements and policy information for Executive Branch agencies.
Interested in working for a family-friendly employer? Visit delawarestatejobs.com