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Almost 60,000 state employees eligible for paid parental leave next month

Next month nearly 59,000 state employees will become eligible for up to eight weeks of paid parental leave.

The new benefit, established through an executive order by Gov. Roy Cooper, will be available to employees of all state agencies under the governor’s oversight. Other agencies have opted into the benefit or are considering it.

Offices that have opted in include: Office of Administrative Hearings, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of the Commissioner of Banks, Office of the Secretary of State, Office of the State Auditor, Office of the State Controller, Department of Public Instruction, and Department of Justice. The Administrative Office of the Courts, an independent branch of state government, will also be opting in.

Opting out: The Department of Labor and the Office of the State Treasurer.

Still considering the option: The Department of Insurance, State Education Lottery, the Community College System Office and the UNC System Office.

According to the policy, the leave — during which employees will be paid at 100 percent of their regular pay — will be available to those who become parents by birth, adoption, foster care or other legal placement of a child.

Those who give birth will get eight weeks of paid leave. All other eligible employees will get four weeks.

“Paid time off for parents to recover from childbirth and bond with new family members is the right thing to do and I’m grateful that many other agencies agree,” Gov. Cooper said in a prepared statement this week. “As paid parental leave becomes an increasingly competitive benefit across North Carolina, it also serves as a powerful incentive to recruit, retain and motivate a strong state government workforce.”

The paid parental leave benefit is triggered for eligible employees by the qualifying event of becoming a parent by birth, adoption, foster care or other legal placement of a child. Eligible state employees who give birth will receive eight weeks of paid leave to recover from the birth and to bond with and care for their newborn. Other eligible state employees will receive four weeks of paid leave to bond with and care for the child. Paid Parental Leave will be paid at 100 percent of the eligible employee’s regular pay.

The State Human Resources Commission and the Governor’s Office approved a pilot plan earlier this month to provide an alternate option for participating agencies to administer Paid Parental Leave. The Department of Justice will use this pilot to offer eight weeks of Paid Parental Leave to both the eligible employee who gives birth and other eligible employee to care for and bond with a newborn or newly adopted, foster, or otherwise legally placed child. Administrative Office of the Courts is not under the pilot but will use its independent authority to provide eight weeks to its eligible employees.

The Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) has provided training to participating agencies to ensure that their human resources staff are prepared to answer employee questions, approve leave for eligible employees, and monitor the leave for required reporting. Additionally, OSHR has posted Paid Parental Leave resources, including administration guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on its website athttps://oshr.nc.gov/state-employee-resources/benefits/work-life-balance/paid-parental-leave.

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