Move brings benefits of sworn employees in line with civilian staff.
The City of Austin is introducing paid parental leave for sworn Police, Fire and EMS employees.
Non-sworn employees, who make up the majority of City staff, have enjoyed the benefit since 2013, when Austin became the first city in Texas to adopt the policy.
However, until now, paid parental leave for sworn employees has been left to labor negotiations between the City and public safety unions. None of the current or past labor contracts included this benefit following their agreement.
Following a Council resolution last December to develop options to provide paid parental leave for sworn Police, Fire, and EMS personnel, the City’s Human Resources Department reviewed several benchmark cities and met with each sworn department and their association.
Today, in a memo to Mayor and Council, HRD is announcing:
Effective immediately, the City will provide up to six weeks of paid leave for sworn employees with the same criteria and process as provided to non-sworn employees.
Sworn employees will continue to receive current benefits, such as shared leave, short or long term disability, and the ADA accommodation process to accommodate anyone with a medical necessity for time beyond the 12-week Family and Medical Leave Act period.
“This decision is consistent with our commitment to fostering a healthy, safe, respectful, and productive work environment for all employees and their families,” said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk. “It demonstrates our continued appreciation for the hard work of our sworn Police, Fire and EMS colleagues.”
The leaders of Austin’s three public safety unions – Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday, Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks, and Austin EMS Association President Selena Xie – welcomed the move.
In a joint statement, they said: “Extending parental leave to Police, Fire and EMS personnel is sorely needed, very appreciated by your public safety workers, and demonstrates that our Council, City Manager, City Human Resource Department and the Community truly care about the well-being of their public safety employees.”
The paid parental leave benefit is up to 30 working days for a maximum of 240 hours (six weeks) for employees scheduled to work 40 hours per week. It is available to mothers and fathers for the birth of the employee’s child and the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care without regard to marital status or sexual orientation.
The cost of the benefit provisions for all three sworn departments is estimated to be $1.7 million per year. Public Safety departments will absorb costs into this fiscal year budget and future costs will be included in next year’s budget.