Virginia House of Delegates Speaker-designee Kirk Cox announced on Thursday that immediately after being sworn in as Speaker, he will direct the Clerk of the House of Delegates to develop a new policy to provide paid parental leave to all full-time, benefited employees of the Virginia House of Delegates for the birth or adoption of a child. Cox also indicated he would support legislation to provide the same benefits to state employees.
“Family is the bedrock of our society, and there’s nothing more important to a family than those first few months at home as they welcome and share joyous moments with their new child,” said Speaker-designee Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “As a society, we have to do more to strengthen families and encourage women to remain in the workplace. Strong parental leave policies improve morale and reduce turnover, two things critical in public sector workplaces. The House of Delegates will lead by example and provide 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child to our full-time, benefited employees.”
Employees will be eligible to take leave any time within one year of the birth or adoption. Currently, employees must use accrued personal leave at the discretion of their supervisor, sick leave, and then may enroll in short-term disability, which only pays a percentage of the employee’s income. The current policy is outlined in the Virginia Sickness and Disability Handbook. For example, an employee hired after July 1, 2009 would be eligible to use accrued personal leave and up to eight to ten days of sick leave before taking short-term disability. Virginia’s short-term disability policy provides for up to 125 workdays of partial income replacement. Employees with less than five years of service receive 65 percent of income replacement. Employees with more than five years of service receive 25 days of 100 percent income replacement, 25 days at 80 percent, and 75 days at 65 percent.
Cox added, “Our current policies are inadequate, forcing mothers and fathers to take sick leave or short-term disability, and even then they may not receive 100 percent of the paycheck they deserve. No mother or father should have to use accrued benefits, which they may need at another point, to care for their child and live out the joys of parenthood.”
Cox also said he would support legislation to provide parental leave that affords the same benefits to all full-time employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Our economy is at a point where families need two incomes and many young people are foregoing the responsibilities that come with adulthood like buying a car, owning a home, or having a child because of cost concerns,” said Cox. “This policy will provide an avenue for young couples to experience the joys of parenthood without fear of economic repercussions, help women stay in the workforce, and strengthen our families.”