Proposal would offer 18 weeks of parental leave with full pay for new parents in Los Angeles

A policy which would allow new parents to take up to 18 weeks of fully paid leave without a reduction in pay is under consideration Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council.

State law allows for up to 18 weeks of paid family leave but only provides eligible employees with 60 to 70 percent of their wages up to a state maximum. The proposed city program would seek to augment the state's contribution via the existing State Disability Insurance and Paid Parental Leave programs to cover 100 percent of wages.

The proposal, which was introduced by Councilwoman Nury Martinez and Councilman David Ryu, was recently approved by the Health, Education, Neighborhoods, Parks, Arts and River Committee and Economic Development Committee. The City Council will be voting on a number of issues related to the policy, including directing the city attorney to draft a new ordinance and for staff to prepare an economic analysis.

"As the cost of living continues to rise while wages stay the same, America is becoming more and more hostile to working people hoping to start a family. This is especially true of expecting and nursing mothers," Martinez said earlier this month when the committees moved the proposal forward. "It is time for us to recognize that working moms are some of the smartest, most devoted, and most productive workers America has to offer. Paid parental leave settles the score for working families and finally brings the Los Angeles economy in line with the rest of the developed world."

The program would be paid by the employers but could create an exemption or risk pool for small businesses and nonprofits, Ryu and Martinez said when the introduced the proposal in January.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a six-month paid family leave policy, but the idea is still in the early stages.

"As for the governor, we very much applaud what the governor is doing, and we're very excited, and we're looking forward to what exactly his proposal will allow to, and we hope that they might augment each other and compliment each other," Ryu said in January.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he supported the proposal when it was introduced.

"Nearly every other country in the developed world guarantees paid family leave. If Washington refuses to step up for children and parents, cities like Los Angeles will -- because we know this is an essential investment in healthy families and a strong economy," Garcetti said. "I applaud Councilmembers Ryu and Martinez for leading the way, and look forward to working with them to make paid parental leave a reality for Angelenos."

CNS contributed to this report.