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Paid parental leave extended for Travis County employees from 8 to 12 weeks

Travis County commissioners unanimously approved the move on Tuesday, citing its benefits.

AUSTIN, Texas — Travis County employees will now receive 12 weeks of paid parental leave, effective immediately.

On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court approved expanding the program from eight weeks to 12 weeks. 

The move follows an identical one made in May 2022, when the court first approved the 8-week paid parental leave.

Before that, Travis County Judge Andy Brown said it would have taken employees more than six years of work just to save up the eight weeks' worth of vacation time.

According to an updated study of the paid parental leave program released on Tuesday, 120 county employees used more than 35,700 hours from May 3, 2022, to May 31, 2023.

Of the 120 workers, 52% were female and 48% were male.

We also know how much paid parental leave costs Travis County, as Tuesday's data revealed that, at eight weeks, the County's estimated total cost – including lost productivity – is a little more than $3.3 million.

At 12 weeks, that figure shoots up to $4.8 million.

County and community groups said there are plenty of advantages to the program.

Emily Amps with Texas AFL-CIO said Travis County is doing the right thing. According to Amps, 80% of workers in the U.S. do not have access to paid parental leave.

"Studies show when parental leave policies are in place, there is a 20% reduction in the number of female employees leaving their jobs in the first year after giving birth and up to 50% after five years," Amps said.

Those groups also said employee retention is just one benefit of paid parental leave programs, citing studies that show that the program leads to more financially stable families and allows parents to bond with their new child.

Cathy McHorse with the United Way of Greater Austin said that with more than 60% of children under the age of 6 in Travis County with working parents, paid parental leave is more important than ever.

Katherine Molina works for the County and is also a mother.  She said she is grateful for the program.

"Prior to it being approved, I was, basically you can say, nickel-and-diming every single day I took off or I needed time off for this and time off for that," Molina said.

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