The city of Portland is poised to join Multnomah County in offering qualified employees six weeks of paid parental leave.
Multnomah County enacted its own policy in October.
If approved Wednesday, Portland's policy would be available to male and female employees who give birth, adopt or agree to foster a child. The same is the case in Multnomah County.
The city's estimate for how much this will cost annually appears low. The human resources bureaus expects it will cost $200,000 per year to provide paid leave to employees that otherwise would have taken unpaid leave. City officials estimate it will cost an additional $300,000 to backfill positions when people are gone.
"There are also three other costs that are more difficult to quantify," city officials write in a memo to the city council. "First, to the extent that taking parental leave allows an employee to retain more vacation and sick time, there may be a higher cost at the time of separation or retirement. Second, for those employees that take more time off than they otherwise would and are not backfilled by other employees, there is a loss of productivity. Finally, it is not clear the extent to which having parental leave available may change the behavior of individuals. For instance, an employee might be more likely to take the full six week parental leave knowing that it is not impacting their other leave balances as opposed to using vacation or sick leave."
The Oregonian editorial board has railed against Multnomah County's policy of giving paid parental leave, saying it would lead to other government agencies' doing the same. Multnomah County was the first in Oregon.
"Unpaid parental leave is the norm," the editorial board wrote.
The Oregonian offers six to eight weeks of paid parental leave through its disability insurance following a birth—but only to women.
UPDATE at 11 am: The policy passed 4-0 with Mayor Charlie Hales absent. Hales is headed to Paris.