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Grosse Pointe City hopes paid parental leave will attract employees

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 27, 2019

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe City is forging new ground by being one of the first municipalities in Michigan to offer paid parental leave to its employees.

The policy, part of the City’s updated employee manual, creates a new benefit that offers up to four weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

“I think it’s an important initiative to try and attract a new, younger generation of employees,” City Manager Pete Dame said at an Aug. 12 City Council meeting.

He said he believes the City is only the third Michigan municipality to adopt this policy, after Sterling Heights and Ferndale.

The policy mirrors for nonunion City employees a new benefit that was included in the public safety officers contract that took effect July 1, 2019. It covers City administrators, office staff, Parks and Recreation Department staff, City Municipal Court employees and Public Works employees, Dame said. He said reaction from the Public Safety Department to the policy has been “very positive” so far. Officials hope the addition of this policy makes the City more competitive when trying to attract talented, qualified employees.

“The new generation tends to value quality-of-life issues,” Dame said.

Elected officials agreed with the change.

“Sounds good,” City Councilman Christopher Walsh said of the policy before it was unanimously approved by the council.

Prior to the approval of this policy, the City didn’t have a maternity or paternity leave policy on the books, other than unpaid leave as set forth by the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

“We had the Family Medical Leave Act, and (employees) could use sick or vacation or comp time (for parental leave),” Dame said. “There was not specifically any paid leave for mothers or fathers.”

Other employee manual changes approved by the council include the establishment of paid medical leave for part-time employees, in keeping with a new Michigan law, and modification of disability leave for work- and non-work-related issues, the latter of which is in keeping with a policy approved by unionized public safety officers.

According to the revised employee handbook language, “Non-work-related disability benefits may be granted to an employee of the City hired on or after July 1, 2013, and who is ineligible for a defined benefit pension with the City, for a non-work related injury or disability provided such benefits are applied for in writing setting forth all the pertinent facts which are the basis for the application.” It allows the City to offer long-term disability insurance for nonunion employees on a leave longer than six months.

“(This is) so all of our people would be handled with disability leave with the same process,” Dame said.

“When we were there, less than 11,000 (people) had wintered at the South Pole,” Colwell said. “It’s an experience of a lifetime.”