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Mayor proposes paid parental leave for city employees

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A new plan for parental leave for city employees would keep money in new parents’ pockets.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says he’s hoping the proposed policy changes the lives of all South Bend workers by starting a trend.

Local parents Janice and Karl Nichols had their two sons while each holding jobs, and it wasn’t easy.

“You don’t want to be off too long, because you don’t want the decrease in pay,” Janice said.

Karl sees it all the time, working with new parents as Executive Director at Community Wellness Partners.

“There is a concern always of even early on in a pregnancy, ‘What will I do with my job because I don’t get that time away?’” Karl said.

The City of South Bend can’t fix this problem with a law or ordinance, but Buttigieg is trying to lead by example.

The city policy would offer up to six weeks leave with 100% normal pay for parents after birth or adoption.

The policy was proposed Wednesday, and if if it passes in October, it will cost the city about $156,000 for the 2018 fiscal year.

Buttigieg says he’s hoping for the best so other businesses follow suit.

“We can’t make anybody do it. But we’re a big employer here and we think if we’re doing it, maybe that will invite others to do the same,” Buttigieg said.

The city attempted something similar last year, raising the minimum wage for municipal staff.

While mayor says they can’t say yet city if leading by example has worked so far, the Nichols are hoping this time it does.

“This is a great model for the private sector to take a look at,” Karl said.

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