Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has announced plans to offer all full-time city employees six weeks of paid parental leave.
“We believe in the value of the family unit,” Curry said on Tuesday. “So I proposed that we have paid leave for moms and dads - six weeks. We started that conversation last summer and now through collective bargaining we’ve reached those agreements.”
“It’s really important that moms and dads have that time to help each other, to bond with their newborn,” said Curry. “And we value that in the City of Jacksonville.”
City Council still has to approve, but Curry expects that to happen and he expects the new policy to go into effect on Oct. 1. The paid leave will be offered to all full-time City of Jacksonville employees, including police officers and firefighters, and it will be available for employees who are adopting as well.
According to Curry the new policy falls within the existing budget so there will be no additional costs.
“Mayor, I want to say thank you for allowing us to do that through the collective bargaining process,” said Randy Wise, President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters. “It was important that we were able to lay it on the table and make decisions based on what’s best for our employees. Obviously, I think this will be a great thing for our employees.”
“As a father of three, I can tell you how much it would’ve meant to me if I was able to have this family leave when my three children were born,” said Steve Zona, President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5-30 in Jacksonville. “A lot of times when we’re gone midnight to whenever it may be, and we may not have leave or whatever it is. We have to work. We struggle to find a way to be there with our families. This takes away that concern, mayor. This takes away that struggle and allows us to be there for six weeks with our families when our baby is born, so thank you for that mayor.”
Mayor Curry hopes that others will follow his lead on this issue, both locally and nationally.
“My hope is that the private sector, if they’re not already doing this - and again I would never dictate to the private sector how they run their business or what their policies are, I believe in free markets - but I would hope they would look at this and consider this and see that this, I believe, will make for a better workforce, a healthier workforce,” Curry said. “When you have a healthy family, you have healthy workers.”