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MN Workers Back Plan for Parental Leave

A move to set up six weeks of paid parental leave is gaining support from Minnesota workers. (iStockphoto)
A move to set up six weeks of paid parental leave is gaining support from Minnesota workers. (iStockphoto)
February 10, 2016

ST PAUL, Minn. - A plan to ensure that Minnesota state employees have six weeks of paid parental leave is earning praise from workers. Governor Mark Dayton's proposal is part of his supplemental budget package, which still needs approval from state lawmakers.

The idea, however, falls in line with what some of Minnesota's largest private employers are already doing. Anglea Byrne is a member of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, or MAPE, which has been pushing the issue for the past year.

Byrne also worked as part of Dayton's Working Group task force to research what parental leave could mean for the state.

"This policy will make a huge difference in the lives of so many state employees," says Byrne. "Taking away stress of planning leave, of not needing to scramble to find daycare within the first six weeks of their newborns' lives."

Only three other states, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, have parental leave programs in place.

The governor's plan would help about 500 Minnesota families. Also, it would complement the 1993 federal family medical leave law, which does not cover employee wages. Byrne says parental leave could be a boost to agencies and companies that want to hang on to good workers.

"Turnover's very expensive, and I'd argue that it's cheaper to contribute towards a program for paid leave for employees than to replace them if they leave," says Byrne.

Similar moves have been backed by Minnesota Democrats in the past, but ultimately went nowhere. The governor's proposal could face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House during next month's legislative session.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN