Tuesday, February 21, 2017
State auditor calls on Greitens to approve family-friendly leave policy for state workers
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today issued a letter to Gov. Eric Greitens calling on his administration to approve two important changes to family leave policies for state executive branch employees. Auditor Galloway issued the letter after learning the administration informed the state's Personnel Advisory Board meeting on Feb. 14 that it was not moving ahead with the changes. The proposals were unanimously approved by the Board in December of 2016.
These family-friendly policies were designed to provide additional flexibility to parents by allowing employees to use earned sick leave for parental bonding after the birth or adoption of a child. The policies also expand parental leave allowances for parents in cases where both parents are state employees. Auditor Galloway urged the Governor to reconsider the halting of these policies, which would benefit employee health and welfare, at no additional cost to the state.
"This is paid time off employees have earned through their time in the state workforce, but can't use during the critical bonding period that exists in the weeks and months after a child is born or adopted," Auditor Galloway said. "Families benefit when parents are involved in the care of a child and without these policy changes, many state employees will remain prohibited from using their own paid leave to take time off to bond with and care for a new addition to their families."
The delay adds additional pressure to the timeline in order to complete the process prior to established deadlines.
The proposed changes would allow state employees to use accrued sick leave to take time off for parental bonding after the birth or adoption of a child. Current policies allow employees to use accrued vacation time for parental bonding. Sick leave is limited to pregnancy, childbirth and recovery from childbirth, but not for parental bonding. If the employee has no vacation leave, or once that leave is exhausted, the employee may take unpaid time off for parental bonding up to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave after the birth or adoption of a child. The maximum amount of protected time off would remain 12 weeks, but employees could use both vacation and sick leave for parental bonding, which could be spread out over 12 months.
The policy changes would also expand parental leave in instances where both parents are state employees. The state currently allows 12 weeks of protected leave, which must be split between both parents. The new policy would allow 12 weeks to each parent.
Unlike the executive branch workforce, which is under the control of the governor's office, other statewide office holders have the authority to approve their own internal personnel policies. Auditor Galloway has taken steps to ensure these beneficial family leave policies apply to employees of the State Auditor's office. She also highlighted a recent change to allow her staff to use sick leave or shared leave in situations involving domestic violence.
Auditor Galloway is calling on other statewide office holders to examine their own policies to ensure they offer adequate leave benefits. These leave benefits are key to attracting workers in a state where state employees are among the lowest paid in the nation. The policies would have no impact on private businesses.