AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new City of Austin memo outlines how paid parental leave will be expanded for non-sworn and sworn city employees in the next three years and how much it will cost.

Currently, the city’s paid parental leave program allows up to a max of 240 hours or six weeks. The memo said the city plans to double that time by slowly raising the number of weeks offered each year to eight weeks by 2023, 10 weeks by 2024 and eventually 12 weeks by 2025, if not sooner.

The memo from the Human Resources Department (HRD) outlined the cost estimate for non-sworn positions based on data from 2021. That year, 287 non-sworn employees used paid parental leave.

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Cost estimates for paid parental leave for non-sworn employees (Source: City of Austin)

The memo said cost estimates for sworn employees had to be calculated differently, however, since there’s no data yet for those employees. The city only began offering paid parental leave for sworn workers this year, according to the memo.

To calculate the cost estimate for sworn employees, the city took into account factors like the average number of dependents. The numbers the city came up with only cover costs to backfill positions when sworn employees aren’t able to show up to work.

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Cost estimates for paid parental leave for sworn employees; only covers costs to backfill positions (Source: City of Austin)

The HRD memo points out any regular city employee, sworn or non-sworn, is eligible for Paid Parental Leave if they qualify for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to the birth of a child or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care.

The memo says city employees are eligible for FMLA when they have worked for the city for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months.

HRD did not recommend expanding benefits to city employees not covered by FMLA. The city
does not have paid leave programs for individuals who do not qualify for FMLA.

The memo warns expanded leave benefits for non-FMLA covered employees due to birth or adoption may require an extension to other FMLA qualifying events where an employee is not eligible for FMLA.

HRD raised concerns people might want to work for the City just to get paid leave for the birth of a
child or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care and not return afterwards. It warns of hardship for departments and current city employees who cover the job duties for those who are out.