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6 Months of Parental Leave May Become Reality in CA

Written by Erin Feher

Photography by Lindsay Caldwell photographed by Julia Hirsch

If there is one thing almost everyone can agree on, it’s that new parents deserve more time off. 80 percent of Americans support paid paternal leave, and it’s an issue that even finds some Democrats and Republicans on the same side.

Yet the United States is still the only industrialized nation that doesn’t offer paid leave to new parents. So it was big news when it was reported that the incoming governor of California, Gavin Newsom, plans to include six months of paid paternal leave in the first budget he submits after taking office. If the proposal passes the Legislature, that would make California’s the most generous plan in the nation.

The state is no stranger to leading the way: California was was the first to offer any form of paid parental leave back in 2002. Back then, companies fought the policies, but studies have since shown that they ended up having a positive effect on productivity and retention, resulting in women earning more and working more hours, babies being breast fed longer, and dads being more involved in child care.

Like anything in government, it will take some fighting to turn the proposal into policy, but Governor Newsom (and father of four kids under the age of ten) has already made a strong statement that parents are a priority in his administration. Halfway into his inaugural address on Monday, his two-year-old son wandered out on stage, sucking on a pacifier and clutching his blankie. Newsom took it all in stride, scooping him up, kissing his cheek and finishing his speech with the boy perched on his hip.

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