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Minnesota's State Employees Seek Paid Parental Leave

PHOTO: MAPE member and mother of four Kirsten Partenheimer is urging Minnesota to provide six weeks of paid parental leave for state employees for both biological and adopted children. Photo credit: Kirsten Partenheimer.
PHOTO: MAPE member and mother of four Kirsten Partenheimer is urging Minnesota to provide six weeks of paid parental leave for state employees for both biological and adopted children. Photo credit: Kirsten Partenheimer.
June 23, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – As contract negotiations continue for thousands of state workers, one priority for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) is to have their next deal include paid parental leave.

The number of cities and private businesses in Minnesota that now offer paid parental leave continues to grow, but there's currently no such policy for state workers. MAPE and its 13,000 members, such as Kirsten Partenheimer with Minnesota Housing, are advocating for six weeks of paid parental leave for mothers and fathers – and for both biological and adopted children.

"In our situation, we adopted two children from China, and it's just a very stressful time figuring out how to make it work financially," says Partenheimer. "If we had the six weeks of paid leave, that would've allowed more time home with our children and also relieved some of the financial burden."

According to a recent report from the Minnesota Department of Health, employees who have access to paid sick and family leave are healthier in general, and their children do better in school.

Daniel Krier, research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Health, says a paid parental leave policy would help the state attract and retain top workers. Krier and his wife are expecting their first child next month.

"If the state had this policy, we would see it would attract a younger group of people to replace a lot of the retirements that are going to happen over the next five years," he says. "We'll also see people work for the state longer because they're saying 'The state cares about me and I want to give back and continue to work hard for the state.'"

Negotiations on a new two-year contract between the state and MAPE have been ongoing since late last year, and are expected to come to a conclusion in the weeks ahead.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN