UPDATE: Centre County Commissioners approved the policy change on Tuesday allowing employees to get paid time off when having, adopting or fostering children. The policy takes effect immediately.
Centre County is slated to become the fourth in Pennsylvania to offer paid time off to employees having or adopting children. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the policy change Tuesday.
Chairman of the Centre County Commissioners Michael Pipe said the research shows paid time off for new parents makes sense.
“It’s that crucial bonding time for kids to be with their parent," Pipe said.
Right now, most employees having a baby can take 12 weeks off under federal law. But, typically, they won’t get paid.
Under the new rule, an employee of Centre County government will get six weeks paid time off after having a baby, adopting one or becoming a foster parent.
More than 450 Centre County employees will be eligible. Pipe said they’ve crunched the numbers and in the past, the cost comes out to about $80,000 a year for an average of 12 employees taking time off for a new child. Pipe said that adds up to a fraction of the total budget — about one-tenth of 1 percent of the total county budget or about 1/4 of 1 percent of the cost of salaries.
“It allows us to support families at a minimal cost for the county," Pipe said. "And we hope that it’s going to retain and actually attract more folks to come to work for Centre County government.”
Pipe said the biggest concern they’ve heard is the burden the policy could put on other employees. He said the county is committed to planning for that, using temporary or floating employees or overtime to help with the workload.
A new parent himself, Pipe said he hopes other employers take a look at offering it, weighing the costs and benefits.
“I think that they would see that this is something that really is part of the future of employment here in this country," he said.
The new policy won’t apply to unionized workers such as correctional officers. But, Pipe said, they’ll look at that during the next contract negotiations.