Jackson County goes to 12-week family leave policy

The Examiner staff

Jackson County is more than doubling family leave time to 12 weeks, a policy that County Executive Frank White Jr. says is the most progressive in the state.

“No one should have to choose between caring for a child and paying the bills,” Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation, said Wednesday at a ceremony at which White signed an executive order putting the change into effect.

Doyle said research has shown that people, by a wide margin, favor substantial amounts of leave for new mothers and fathers, and she said employers benefit from better motivated and more committed employees.

White said the change is in line with his push since coming into office to raise employee pay. Better pay and benefits can cut down on costly turnover as well, he said. The county has allowed five weeks previously.

“We want our current and future associates to know that when you come to work for Jackson County, family comes first,” he said. “Your quality of life comes first.”

Leave can be taken by any employee for a birth or adoption, all at once or intermittently. Employees qualify after a year with the county.

The county’s director of collections, Whitney Miller, had a baby in December and on Wednesday stressed the need for moms to have time to recover and for parents to have time to adjust to new routines and bond with a newborn.

“Childbirth is hard, and parenting a newborn is even harder. … And parents need that time at home,” she said.

White added, “Lack of access to paid parental leave is a public crisis. … Every child deserves to be cared for when they need it.”