San Francisco leads the way with new family leave bill

San Francisco’s new paid family leave law is a big step forward for advocates of the cause. New parents who have worked for a company for at least 180 days will now be entitled to six weeks of fully paid leave.

This plan places San Francisco leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the country.

According to a 2014 report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, only 39 percent of Americans had access to some type of paid family leave, and only 11 percent of employers reported providing it. California is one of only three states in the country that mandates some type of paid family leave, according to the White House report, but none of the three states mandate fully paid leave. However, Governor Jerry Brown just signed a bill into law raising the percentage of employees’ wages California employers are required to pay.

According to a 2014 study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the United States is one of only 8 countries in the world, and the only high-income one, that does not currently mandate some form of paid maternity leave, and 81 other countries currently provide family leave to fathers as well.

California was the first state in the country to mandate paid family leave, and it needs to lead again when it comes to both fully funded leave and gender equality. San Francisco’s bill is a step in the right direction, but we need to extend the policy to the rest of the state and country as well. A survey of California employers found that more than 90 percent said mandatory maternity leave had had a positive effect or no effect at all on success and morale.

It is important that both parents be allowed to take time to acclimate their child to their home and themselves to the process of being parents without being penalized financially.

The rest of the country should follow San Francisco and California’s example and provide equal time to both parents.