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As workforce gets younger, employers weigh parental leave policies

Odessa-Midland KOSA-TV logo Odessa-Midland KOSA-TV 7/7/2022 Joshua Skinner
As of January, the Bureau of Labor statistics shows just 23% of American employees in the private sector have access to paid parental leave. © Provided by Odessa-Midland KOSA-TV As of January, the Bureau of Labor statistics shows just 23% of American employees in the private sector have access to paid parental leave.

ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - The Supreme Court decision to send Roe v. Wade wade back to the states has caused emotions to run high over the past couple of weeks.

But it’s also prompting conversations about essential aspects of American life and work that have fallen by the wayside.

The Permian Basin is a young workforce by national standards, and its young people valuing life outside of the office that’s forcing the public and private sectors to reevaluate parental leave.

“The reality of the workforce is that people are raising families and working,” Midland City Councilwoman Lori Blong said.

The Midland City Council is in the early stages of looking into how to best adapt to the changing environment.

“I think as we see the workforce in Midland grow younger and the general demographics of Midland growing younger, this becomes an increasingly important conversation,” Blong said. “Because there are so many young families as part of our community in Midland.”

But it’s not just a work-life balance issue. For employers, it has a lot to do with retention.

In an Ernst and Young survey, 83% of Millenials said they’re more likely to join a company offering paid parental leave.

But so far, the united states is severely lacking in that department.

CBS7 addressed the issue of maternity leave in an exclusive interview with Rep. August Pfluger (R, TX-11) in late June.

Joshua Skinner: Are there any plans in place to help extend parental resources?

Pfluger: I think it’s important that mothers, especially as they get to this point in time, they’re contributing in the workforce, they’re contributing in the home life, they’re contributing everywhere in ways that me as a man, I probably don’t comprehend the amount of contribution that is going on there. So, our discussion has to be aimed at exactly what you just asked. How do we take care of those mothers so they continue to do the things that are asked of them, which is an enormous contribution to our society?

The current American setup is bleak.

The Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, provides people up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave each year. This means the United States is not one of the 120 countries that mandate employers offer paid family leave.

Texas has no state requirement beyond the 12-week federal policy. Midland and Odessa have no policy either.

The latter has implemented a ‘Unileave’ policy, a bank of hours that can be used for any leave with no caps on how much you can accrue.

The intent is to be as inclusive as possible in an era where even the best intentions can have devastating consequences.

“Where we run into danger, I think, is any time you start trying to specify particular reasons for a leave,” said Charles Hurst, Odessa Director of Human Resources. “Now, as we become more specific about that, who gets carved in and who gets carved out, there’s always a danger you’re going to leave a population out that you really want to appeal to.”

Although not required, it benefits employers to act independently as companies like Starbucks and Microsoft have done.

And Midland is in the early stages of discussing how to help families, make the Permian Basin a more attractive work destination, and once people get here, keep them here.

“We as a city and in corporate life need to be constantly reevaluating those policies for personnel to make sure we allow families to thrive,” Blong said.

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