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Seattle Proposal Would Provide City Employees Four Weeks Paid Parental Leave

The City of Seattle may soon offer its employees four weeks paid leave to take care of a new child. Mayor Ed Murray and City Council Member Jean Godden laid out the details Monday at a news conference.

Godden said paid parental leave helps reduce the gender wage gap and that women who work and have kids will be better supported."They will have more time with new children," Godden said. "They will be more prepared to come back to work. Studies show that paid parental leave results in women returning to work at higher rates than those who do not have such a benefit."

Godden and Murray talked about family values, saying it's crucial not just for a mother to recover from birth, but because bonding with a parent in that first month is important for a baby's brain development.

Murray said the four paid weeks would not dip into any employee accrued sick leave or vacation time. The one minor stipulation is that employees need to have worked for the city for at least six months.

It could cost the city as much as $1.4 million a year, but Murray said that's alright.

"We are the only country in the industrialized world, the only first world country, that doesn’t offer this benefit," Murray said.

He said Seattle can afford it. The council will write the city legislation over the next few weeks.