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South Salt Lake Journal

Paid parental leave comes to SSL employees

Oct 22, 2019 01:34PM ● By Bill Hardesty

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

In a somewhat rare action, the South Salt Lake City Council passed unanimously two important resolutions on Sept. 18. They passed a resolution on paid parental leave and a resolution on requiring an apprenticeship program at certain job sites. The passage was spearheaded by Mark Kindred, councilmember at-large.

Paid parental leave

Speaking about the importance of paid parental leave, Kindred said, "Because it’s the right thing to do. Especially with no action at the federal or state level it falls to local governments to try and implement paid parental leave programs. Research indicates paid parental leave has positive effects on infant health and maternal health and it also promotes gender equality. Not many cities in Utah have a benefit like this and in a competitive hiring environment where public sector jobs might not always be at the forefront. Every benefit counts. I hope that helps."

While offering paid parental leave is a growing trend, it still is not mainstream. According to the Mercer's 2018 Survey on Absence and Disability Management, "About two-fifths — some 40 percent — of survey respondents said they now offer paid parental leave for both the birth and non-birth parent, compared to about 25 percent in 2015, per the survey."

The council started to discuss paid parental leave in a work meeting on Aug. 22, 2018. Over the time, Kindred and others spoke with many municipalities about their programs or lack of programs. The council voiced that paid parental leave is not a budget buster because the funds to pay the employee during the leave is already in the budget. In those cases, where overtime was used to cover the employee, such overtime is also already in the budget.

The passed resolution, which took effect Sept. 19, is a change to the SSL Policy and Procedure manual. It allows employees who are eligible for and meet the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) criteria to receive two weeks (80 hours) of consecutive paid leave due to the birth or adoption of a child. In addition, birth mothers who are eligible for FMLA are entitled to an additional six weeks (240 hours) of consecutive paid leave immediately after the birth to recover from the physical and medical effects of pregnancy and childbirth. Parental leave must be taken within six months of the birth or adoption of the child.

“I support it,” Mayor Cherie Wood said. “I am just trying to understand the impacts, including budget impacts.” 

Apprenticeship program

The apprenticeship program was introduced to the council in a work meeting Aug. 28. The proposed resolution was modeled after the one passed by Salt Lake County.

There was some initial pushback from Dennis Pay, the city engineer and Sharen Hauri, the urban design director. They were concerned about unforeseen impacts on future development in the city. Another concern is that developers might see this as another SSL rule and go elsewhere. A final concern is the impact on federal funds for projects. There was no more public discussion before passing the resolution.

The resolution requires contractors and subcontractors working on all qualified projects to have at least 10% of the work done by an apprentice of a trade. Qualified projects are contracts issued by South Salt Lake City on or after July 1, 2019, for all South Salt Lake City-owned building improvements or public works projects estimated to exceed $500,000.

Contractors and subcontractors will submit payroll records to the city each month, certifying the names of all workers performing labor hours, their trade, hours worked, and designation as journey-level worker or apprentice.

If a contractor or subcontractor on a qualified project does not comply and the requirement is not adjusted by the mayor, the contractor will be assessed a penalty fee amount for each hour that is not achieved. The amount is based on a sliding scale of how well they applied.

"I also fought (not as long) for the apprenticeship ordinance for the same reason. It’s the right thing to do and promotes a skilled trades workforce, especially on projects in South Salt Lake. We have many programs (that rightfully) focus on the importance of a college education, but we also should focus on skilled trades that don’t always require a college degree to get a skill that leads to a good job," Kindred said. 

“While it is a good thing,” Wood said. “My concern is when we take legislation written for Salt Lake City or Salt Lake County and try to make it fit in our small city without staff input.”