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Paid Parental Leave Vote Possible Wednesday

Rainer Maiores

Cincinnati City Council will likely vote Wednesday on a plan to offer paid parental leave.

In short, the plan includes allowing men and women to take two weeks of sick or vacation time followed by four weeks of paid leave at 70 percent of their base pay. They can then borrow against their sick or vacation time for the remaining 30 percent.

Council member Chris Seelbach is one of the ordinance's two sponsors. When asked why the plan couldn't just be part of union negotiations, Seelbach says "to me, it is similar to domestic partner benefits, which is that we don't want our employees to have to give something up in order to get this benefit."

"For me, it is a matter of values," Seelbach says. "This is the right thing to do, it isn't something that should be negotiated."

Seelbach and the ordinance's co-author Yvette Simpson say they have the mayor's support and the votes to pass the bill. Mayor John Cranley had proposed a similar bill. Simpson and Seelbach say portions of the mayor's plan have been incorporated into the final proposal being brought before Council.

Council member Kevin Flynn doesn't support the plan and worries about how much it might cost because he says people will be more likely to take the time off if they know they're being paid.

The city's Human Resources office offered cost predictions. Department representatives told a council subcommittee Monday that if all firefighters, for example, who would have been eligible for the plan last year had taken it, it would have cost about $225,000. That's because their contract includes a staff replacement clause, making it one of the most costly departments for leave time.

Human Resource officials also say the most costly financial scenario for the increased paternity leave could add up to about $1 million per year.