Parental-leave law in Newburgh Heights gets attention of White House

NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio-- The village of Newburgh Heights drew the attention of the White House Monday afternoon. A member of the President’s Cabinet traveled to the small community of 2,500 people to talk with its Mayor about Newburgh’s precedent-setting paid family leave policy.

Village Council unanimously approved an ordinance last month giving full-time employees six months of paid maternity and paternity leave. Mayor Trevor Elkins told Fox8 that domestic partners and adoptive parents would also be eligible.

“We’re here today because Mayor Elkins is a leader on an issue that keeps people up at night and that is the issue of paid leave,” said Tom Perez, Secretary of Labor for the United States.

Secretary Perez said he expected the federal government to follow the lead of Newburgh Heights and eventually adopt paid family leave for all.

“We’re the only industrialized nation in the planet that doesn’t have some sort of federal paid leave system and that’s unconscionable and we’re also the only nation on the planet where it’s a partisan issue,” said Perez.

“Our goal was not to get recognition but simply to empower our employees to build on their families,” said Elkins.

The Secretary said governments around the world understood a sensible system of paid leave was good for both employees and the companies for whom they work.

“The President has used his executive authority to make sure if you do business with the federal government you have to have a paid leave policy in place and we’ve been working with state and local leaders across this country, ranging from the state of New York to the state of California and elsewhere,” said Perez.

The Secretary told Fox8 the Administration had been pushing Congress to pass a paid leave bill.

“We’re going to keep on fighting,” said Perez, “Success in Washington is all about persistence and we’re going to keep moving forward and leading on leave and in the meantime our local and state partners will really be leading.”

“Our hope - this spreads both to the private sector as well as other public entities but I think it’s already caught on and I think the general public is upset that the government is trailing,” said the Mayor.

Newburgh Heights paid leave begins immediately. Read more here.