State expands its paid leave rights

Last Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton released a proposal to grant state workers six weeks of paid parental leave. Although this policy would affect only about 500 Minnesotans per year, it sets an important precedent to create fair working conditions in our state.
Paid parental leave continues to receive national attention, and studies reveal that paid parental leave offers significant health benefits for employees and their families at a marginal cost to employers. Compared to earned sick time and fair scheduling proposals, which draw criticism because of the increased costs for businesses, paid parental leave proposals might not prove as disruptive. 
However, a Republican-controlled Congress and a cultural tendency to avoid interfering with employer-employee relations have both posed significant obstacles to achieving universal paid parental leave across the nation. These factors add significance to local proposals like Dayton’s, no matter how small they may be. 
The next step for our state government should be to advocate for the benefits of paid parental leave for nongovernment agencies and organizations. For example, extending paid parental leave to careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields would help attract more women to those positions, which experience large vacancies nationwide. If Minnesota leads the country with paid parental leave, it has the potential to lead it economically as well. 
Our state has little to lose and everything to gain by implementing broader paid parental leave policies. We urge state leaders to prioritize this issue.