County Gov’t to Look at Maternity Leave Program

Loudoun County will fold discussions of creating a specific maternity leave program into its ongoing classification and compensation study, after a push by Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run).

Currently, Loudoun County government employees are eligible for up to 12 unpaid weeks for a family or medical leave of absence, including the birth of a child. If both parents work for the county, they are eligible for only 12 weeks combined.

New parents can also use paid sick leave, and after one or two weeks depending on the employee’s state retirement plan, short-term disability leave. Employees on disability leave are paid 60 percent of the regular pay.

Meyer said he had been asking county employees about the policy.

“What we learned overwhelmingly is that not having any sort of maternity leave policy definitely is a disincentive—particularly for women—to stay in our county,” Meyer said. he predicted setting up a maternity leave policy in Loudoun “is not going to cost us very much.”

“This is about making sure that we structure our leave policy to stop making people feel uncomfortable about having children,” Meyer said.

Other supervisors said Loudoun’s overlapping policies mean there are many moving pieces. Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) argued the county already has a generous sick policy, since there is no limit to accruing annual sick leave.

But County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), a former county employee, said “it is not a good policy.” She argued some new parents haven’t worked for the county long enough to accrue significant sick leave, and that new mothers aren’t sick.

Meyer moved to develop options for a maternity leave; the majority of supervisors voted instead to fold the question into the county’s ongoing study of compensation and job classification.

Virginia requires localities to provide at least 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid family and medical leave. According to an email from Loudoun Director of Human Resources Jeanette Green sent to supervisors, from September 2016 to August 2017, 28 percent of Family Medical Leave Act requests were related to the birth or adoption of a child.

Around the region, Fairfax County grants two weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. Thereafter, new parents can take family medical leave for unpaid time off.

Prince William County has no maternity leave, so new parents must use sick leave, annual leave, or unpaid family and medical leave.

In Leesburg, parental leave is treated as sick leave and uses accrued sick leave. If employees need more time, they can use annual leave. Employees may also be granted parental leave without pay for up to six months.

And state employees also must take short-term disability leave, which ranges from full pay to 60 percent pay depending on time in service and time off.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

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