State Looks To Overhaul Leave Policies

By John Celock

North Dakota lawmakers have approved legislation that would allow more state employees to stay home with a new child.

The Legislature advanced a bill earlier this month that would allow any state employee to use up to six weeks of accumulated sick leave to stay home with a newborn or newly adopted child. Rep. Jessica Haak (D-Jamestown), the bill’s sponsor, said this would allow for a more family friendly policy covering all state workers.

“This opens it up to either parent. The mother or father can use their accumulated sick leave,” Haak told The Celock Report. “If they have six weeks of sick leave, that’s the max. This allows both parents for a birth or adoption to use up to use up to six weeks of their accumulated sick leave when a new child comes into the home.”

Current state policies allow for the mother of a newborn to use her accumulated sick leave to cover part of her maternity leave on a paid basis. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 unpaid weeks off of work after giving birth.

Haak said one of the key things is that state employees would be able have more time off if there are complications from child birth for their recovery. In addition, she noted it will allow more time for parents to bond with their children.

Haak said that she is confident Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) will sign the bill and hoped that the private sector would follow state government.

“It provides families with the bonding time with the new child in their life. It makes North Dakota a more family friendly state,” she said. “It is a good step in the right direction. Hopefully private sector businesses in North Dakota put these in place or enhance their policies to help grow North Dakota families.”