In an effort to recruit, retain and support dedicated and talented public servants, Gallatin County is now offering paid parental leave as a benefit to its employees.
Gallatin County Commissioners voted 3-0 on Tuesday, Feb. 4 to adopt a new paid parental leave policy, which goes into effect for any birth or adoption occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2020.
This new policy provides for six weeks of paid parental leave for employees who have themselves or with their spouse or domestic partner, experienced the birth or adoption of a child.
The leave is available to full- and part-time employees who have worked for Gallatin County for at least six months. Gallatin County currently has 515 full- and part-time employees.
“This policy reinforces our commitment to the well-being of County employees and their families,” said Gallatin County Commissioner Scott MacFarlane. “It is a modern economic reality that very few families can afford to have a stay-at-home parent, nor can they endure interruption to their income for an extended length of time. This policy benefits the health and development of children, boosts the productivity and morale of employees, saves the employer significant costs in turn-over, and contributes to closing the gender wage gap. It is clear that neither the employer nor the employee benefits when new parents are faced with the distressing choice between caring for their child and maintaining their paycheck.”
MacFarlane added that “we see this as an opportunity to set a new employment standard in our community, which will motivate further employers to adopt similar policies for their employees.”
The policy was crafted and recommended to Commissioners by the county’s Recruit and Retain Committee, a group of employees working on ways Gallatin County can improve both recruitment of new employees and retention of excellent employees.
The group has focused on improving Gallatin County’s personnel policies to make them more employee and family friendly. The committee has already made recommendations, which were adopted by the Commission, and plans on bringing additional recommendations for policy changes to the Commission for consideration in the near future.
Torie Haraldson, Water Quality Tech Specialist for the Gallatin Local Water Quality District, works on the Recruit and Retain Committee that crafted this new policy. She said the group’s goal was to craft a flexible policy that provides new moms and dads at Gallatin County with additional time for family bonding that can be used on a schedule that strikes a better work-life balance.
“One of the best ways to be an employer of choice is through policies that let employees know they are respected and appreciated as workers AND people,” Haraldson said. “New parents are more likely to be newer employees, often lower on the pay scale, and without a significant amount of sick leave on the books. I know from experience that it’s really hard to come back to work 12 weeks after giving birth with no sick or vacation leave left and a new baby in childcare, and feel like you’re doing your best as a parent or an employee.”
Gallatin County is one of the first major employers in the area to offer paid parental leave to employees. However, Gallatin County is not the first county in Montana to enact such a policy. Missoula County adopted a similar policy in 2016.
See Gallatin County’s full policy here.