City of Chicago announces paid maternity leave for workers

September 7, 2011

(WBEZ/Kate Dries)
Mayor Emanuel discussed maternity leave during an announcement about new jobs added to the private sector.

Chicago city workers will be getting paid maternity and paternity leave under a new set of rules announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wednesday. Parents had previously used vacation and sick days to take time off for a new child.

The mayor said the change is an attempt to bring city government up to speed with the private sector, to "help us recruit and maintain a workforce."

"I can say this as somebody who took a week off when each child was born, of my three; it's the right thing to do by your employees. It's good business, it's good values, and it's a great way to start a child off in the bonding between an adult and a child," said Emanuel.

Women will receive four to six weeks paid leave after giving birth, adoptive parents will get two weeks, and partners will receive one.

The city's vacation policy is also shifting; there will now be a five day limit on unused vacation days workers can roll over from year to year. The mayor says the current policy encourages people to hoard days off to pad their salaries.

"We had a vacation day policy, but the way it was structured...a number of employees used it as a backdoor," explained Emanuel. "It was structured the wrong way, and the taxpayers were left with the bill to pay for it."