LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Big changes are coming for city employees in Lakewood after the city council passed an ordinance this week offering paid leave for new parents.
The move allocates ten paid weeks for birth mothers and two paid weeks for other parents to allow for bonding with the newborn.
Back in 2019, then-councilwoman Meghan George spoke to News 5 when she first filed the legislation.
“This week was a big week for the city of Lakewood employees,” Mayor Meghan George said. “As I said in 2019, and I say today, our male counterparts never have to go through giving birth and the true recovery of what that actually means for women.”
George, who worked as a benefits consultant, observed the upside in offering paid parental leave.
“I had seen over the years the trend of increasing this benefit across the board, but it's not where it needs to be,” she said. “For years, women needed to accrue sick time and vacation time before taking time off for a pregnancy.”
The mayor told News 5 the move makes working for the city of Lakewood a more attractive option for younger employees.
“Our fire department doesn't have one female firefighter,” she explained. “When a woman looks into going into that field, maybe she now takes a second look at Lakewood because she knows she has that benefit.”
George said there are several city employees set to benefit from the ordinance once it takes effect.
Lakewood’s announcement intrigued Charles Slife, who serves as the City of Cleveland’s councilman for neighboring Ward 17.
“To me, it demonstrates it’s not some abstract idea,” he said. “There’s value in retaining workers we’ve already invested so much in and having systems in place to attract top talent into the city to do the work.”
Slife told News 5 he, along with other councilmembers, are exploring the potential costs behind enacting something similar for employees with the City of Cleveland.
“I understand Pittsburgh has paid parental leave, and I just don’t like the idea we're second fiddle in something to Pittsburgh,” he said.
Lakewood’s paid parental leave is set to go into effect sometime in the near future.