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Columbus plans to roll out a new, paid family-leave policy for city workers this year.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown said the policy will give city workers four weeks of parental leave and two weeks to care for a sick family member at 70 percent of normal pay. Employees would have to take a two-week waiting period, during which they would use accrued sick or vacation leave or take unpaid time before the paid leave starts.

The benefit will be extended to both men and women and also cover adoptive parents, she said.

“Workplace policies haven’t kept up with the reality of the modern American family,” Brown said.

Under current rules, the city’s only paid leave benefit is for birth mothers using short-term disability.

City employees are eligible for unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. That grants workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for a newborn or adopted child, or to care for a family member.

Brown said the new policy will be added to union contracts as current deals expire and the City Council will consider legislation in April that would extend the benefits to more than 40 political appointees. All of the city’s current union contracts expire this year.

The city has about 8,500 employees and a personnel budget of about $646 million a year. The city projects that the policy could cost about $442,000 annually, but Brown said other cities have been able to minimize or eliminate costs by planning for leave.

Courtesy of Dispatch