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Governor Cooper Announces Paid Parental Leave Policy Eligible State Employees to Receive Paid Parental Leave to Support Family Health, Stronger Economy

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For a Fact Sheet on Executive Order No. 95, click HERE

To support healthy families and strengthen our economy, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 95, extending paid parental leave to state employees in cabinet agencies. 

“This new paid parental leave policy will give state employees more time to recover from childbirth and give their newborns the care and attention they need,” Gov. Cooper said. “It will help reduce gender inequality in our workplaces, and it will help our state attract and retain a strong workforce.”

Effective September 1, 2019, state employees of any North Carolina department, agency, board or commission under the oversight of the governor will receive eight weeks of paid parental leave after giving birth or four weeks of paid parental leave after a partner gives birth or to bond with and care for a child in the event of adoption, foster care or other legal placement of a child. Parents will receive 100 percent of their regular pay while on parental leave.

Full-time permanent, probationary or time-limited employees in the Cabinet agencies who have been continuously employed by the State of North Carolina for at least twelve months prior to their leave and are eligible for Family and Medical Leave can qualify for paid parental leave. Part-time employees are eligible to receive paid parental leave on a prorated basis. According to the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources, about 56,000 state employees will be eligible for paid parental leave under the new policy.

Paid parental leave policies promote wellness by providing time parents need to recover from childbirth and bond with a new baby, to attend regular medical checkups and to manage family caregiving responsibilities. Research suggests children whose parents have access to paid parental leave are more likely to attend regular medical checkups and have fewer health problems. When paid parental leave is available, women who give birth are less likely to experience postpartum depression and men are more likely to be involved fathers

Paid parental leave is also good for the economy and fiscally responsible. Paid parental leave can help families care for children without risking financial insecurity and can reduce demands on the social safety net by reducing the likelihood that working parents must apply for taxpayer-funded benefits. Private sector employers have found that paid parental leave can improve employee retention, productivity and morale.

View Executive Order No. 95 HERE.

Leaders in Support of Paid Parental Leave 

Lisa Finaldi, Community Engagement Leader, NC Early Childhood Foundation 
“Governor Cooper’s decision to provide employees in his cabinet agencies with paid parental leave is commendable and will strengthen the state's workforce. Research shows that family-friendly workplaces benefit employers, employees and children’s health, education and well-being. In a strong economy with low unemployment and a wide skills gap, 94 percent of NC employees say family-friendly policies help businesses attract and retain talent and keep companies strong, according to a poll NCECF commissioned through the Family Forward NC initiative.

“We encourage employers across NC to follow Governor Cooper’s lead and provide more family friendly benefits to their workforces. Governor Cooper also released an executive order in December ensuring workplace accommodations for pregnant women in cabinet agencies. These steps demonstrate his commitment to employees, families and our state’s future workforce.”

Sharon Hirsch, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse NC 
“North Carolina’s future prosperity requires the healthy development of our children. North Carolina will lead in innovation, resiliency, and economic development when we invest in building strong families and strong communities. Paid parental leave is one of many prevention investments that North Carolina can make as a state. Paid leave is good prevention, good public policy, good business, and good medicine.”

Michelle Hughes, Executive Director, NC Child
"Bringing a new family member home is such an exciting time for families, but it can also be a deeply stressful time. Decades of research show us what a critical period those first weeks are. We applaud Governor Cooper's leadership in advancing this preventive, family-friendly policy that could literally save lives, and we hope that more employers across North Carolina will follow suit." 

Beth Messersmith, Senior Campaign Director, North Carolina for MomsRising
“MomsRising welcomes the new paid parental leave measure for state employees as an important step on the road to ensuring that all workers in this state can access the paid family and medical leave they need to cover the range of caregiving and self-care needs they are likely to face during their working years,” said Beth Messersmith, Senior Campaign Director, North Carolina for MomsRising, which has 42,000 members drawn from all 100 counties in the state. “We applaud Gov. Cooper’s powerful commitment to moms and families, which is truly impressive. In addition to this executive order, which provides parental leave for state employees, he has adopted executive orders that ban the use of salary history in hiring by state agencies and require pregnancy accommodations for all state employees. Taken together, these measures will significantly improve the lives of state employees and their families, while setting an example for the rest of the state to follow. MomsRising recognizes Gov. Cooper as the trailblazer he is and we will encourage other governors across the country to follow his lead. Thanks to Gov. Cooper, it’s a new day for moms in North Carolina.”

Susan R. Mims, MD, MPH, FAAP, President, NC Pediatric Society
“On behalf of the NC Pediatric Society, we commend the Governor for this exciting step forward to support families. Right after childbirth is a critical time for babies to bond with their new families. Paid leave is proven to promote increased breastfeeding, higher rates of vaccination, and improved maternal mental health and is a big win for babies and parents, especially in the early weeks and months of life.”

Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
“Paid leave provides working parents the time they need to care for new children, which is so critical to the healthy development of children and families. We applaud Gov. Roy Cooper for championing working people and families in North Carolina by providing paid parental leave to all Cabinet employees. We also urge the state legislature to pass legislation that would allow all working North Carolinians paid time away from work to care for a new child, their own serious illness or a seriously ill family member.” 

Michele Rivest, Policy Director, NC Early Education Coalition
“The NC Think Babies initiative has adopted Paid Family Leave as a top priority to support new parents and the healthy development of their babies. We are indebted to Governor Roy Cooper for his great leadership in supporting North Carolina’s families.”

Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., NC Department of Health and Human Services 
“Experiences children have in their earliest years serve as the foundation for healthy development. That’s why paid leave for moms and dads has critical benefits for children and families, including positive impacts on child health and development, parent health and wellbeing and financial stability. For children and families, the benefits of paid leave are numerous and long lasting.”

Secretary Anthony M. Copeland, NC Department of Commerce
“Paid parental leave for state employees is a great step to ensuring North Carolina has a quality workforce and that we can compete with private industry for top talent. State employees can rest easy knowing they don’t have to choose between working and childcare. This is a great demonstration of how family-friendly employment practices enhance the quality of life and economic development across the state.”

Barbara Gibson, Director, NC Office of State Human Resources 
“This order establishes North Carolina as a leader in providing Paid Parental Leave to support the health and well-being of parents and children. It is an important benefit for the employees who work hard every day to provide essential programs and services to the people of our state and modernizes our system to serve as a valuable recruitment tool in attracting and retaining more young people in state government careers.”
  
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