New Survey: Many NC Governments Enhanced Their Paid Sick Leave Policies During the Pandemic, But Paid Parental Leave and Leave to Address Domestic Violence Lag
Raleigh, NC – Many local governments in North Carolina have improved their paid sick leave policies during the pandemic, but there is a lot of work still to do before NC becomes a family-friendly state. Most of the municipal and county governments that added to or enhanced their paid sick leave policies due to the pandemic plan to continue their stronger family-friendly policies, which also include flexible work, telecommuting, scheduling updates, and new health insurance benefits. But a survey of local governments, conducted in June by MomsRising and Family Forward NC and released today, also finds that access to paid parental leave and safe leave is inadequate for most people who work for local governments.
The survey of NC local governments with 20 or more employees was conducted in cooperation with the NC Association of County Commissioners and the NC League of Municipalities. It included all 100 NC counties and 206 municipalities. A total of 130 governments – 35 counties and 95 local governments – responded, representing 42% of those surveyed. The results are being released as local advocates are running an unprecedented statewide billboard and social media campaign to underscore the need for paid leave and child care in North Carolina. Among the survey findings:
Nearly all governments (93%) offered some paid sick leave before COVID-19, and 77% offered paid kin care leave – leave that gives employees the ability to care for dependents who are sick. During the pandemic, more than one in four governments enhanced their sick leave policies or created new ones, giving even more workers paid leave to care for themselves or their families when sick.
Access to safe leave, or leave available to attend to a critical safety need related to problems like domestic violence, assault, or stalking, lags behind other types of leave. Nearly one in four respondents offered paid safe leave prior to COVID and just 3.8% added to or enhanced this policy during the pandemic.
Access to paid parental leave also lags behind other types of leave. Prior to the pandemic, 40% of survey respondents offered parental leave. Only 7.6% added to or enhanced their parental leave during the pandemic.
Local governments report that they plan to continue a large share of their new or enhanced family-friendly policies, including flexible work, telecommuting, scheduling updates and new health insurance benefits, after COVID-19.
Most organizations say their top reason for adding or enhancing benefits was to support employees. Other reasons include strengthening the organization as they evolve and retaining workers.
“There is encouraging news in this survey, but also considerable room for improvement,” said Tina Sherman, Senior Campaign Director at MomsRising. “Given that the isolation caused by COVID-19 led to an increase in domestic violence, most local governments missed the opportunity to adopt or expand their safe leave policies, which can support survivors trying to protect themselves and their children. We see an urgent imperative for county and local governments to put strong safe leave policies in place, further improve their paid parental leave, make accommodations for pregnant or breastfeeding workers, and offer workers help in finding and paying for high-quality child care.”
Last week, the NC Families Care coalition posted eye-catching billboards in six markets across the state that underscore the need for paid leave and affordable child care for all families. The billboards, in prominent locations in Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem, are sponsored by the NC Families Care Coalition, which represents more than two dozen diverse organizations advocating for family-friendly workplace policies. Each billboard rotates three messages:
We shouldn’t have to choose between a paycheck & our families. Paid leave now.
Working families need paid leave and child care.
Help NC go back to work and support small businesses. Paid leave and child care now.
The 60-day billboard campaign is supported by paid social media.
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MomsRising.org is an on-the-ground and online grassroots organization of more than a million people – including 47,000 in North Carolina – who are working to improve family economic security, stop discrimination against women and moms, and build a nation where businesses and families can thrive.
Family Forward NC is an innovative initiative to improve children’s health and well-being and keep North Carolina’s businesses competitive. It is employer-led change to increase access to research-based, family-friendly practices — big and small — that improve workplace productivity, recruitment and retention; grow a strong economy; and support children’s healthy development.