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Menlo Park mom talks about expanded parental leave policy

 

Following a landmark week when both San Francisco and the state of New York passed laws to broaden paid parental leave, at least one Menlo Park mother will be taking advantage of her own company's newly broadened parental leave policy.

Gail Mohr, who lives in Menlo Park and works at Bank of America as a regional executive in community engagement and corporate social responsibility, said timing worked in her favor when the company announced its own expanded parental leave policy on March 30.

Her third child is due in a couple of weeks, she said, so she was "relieved" when Bank of America announced that paid parental leave would be broadened to a flexible 16-week paid leave period, up from 12 weeks.

As has been oft-repeated in recent weeks, the U.S. is the only developed country in the world that doesn't mandate paid family leave. California is one of now four states that does have some paid leave policies, though. The state can cover 55 percent of an employee's wages for up to six weeks, funded through an employee payroll deduction program, with capped payouts.

San Francisco, on April 5, became the first U.S. city to pass a measure requiring employers to give workers six weeks of fully paid parental leave; and New York, on March 31, became the fourth state to offer some form of paid parental leave to residents.

As a new mother, even 12 weeks felt short to Ms. Mohr after her first two kids were born, she said. With her first child, she took off an additional month or so of unpaid leave before returning to work, and with her second, she returned at the 12-week mark, but said it was a challenge to do so.

"I'm thrilled that this time around, it'll be part of my plan ahead of time," she said.

She plans to use her full time in one chunk, but said other colleagues, both men and women, might choose to break up their leave time.

Sixteen weeks of flexible, paid parental leave is on the list of employee benefits at a growing number of companies, especially in the tech sector, including Facebook, Etsy, Netflix and Spotify, said Bank of America officials.

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