Louisville Metro Government sees health and wellness benefits of new Paid Parental Leave policy

February 09, 2024

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, has released an analysis of the Louisville Metro Government’s (LMG) Paid Parental Leave (PPL) policy, which took effect April 2021. The report found that support for PPL was overwhelmingly positive among employees and supervisors, with many substantial benefits to the workforce.

The policy provides LMG employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave for those who have a child through birth or adoption. Employees, no matter their gender, are eligible if they have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous year or have been employed with the city for at least 12 months. Before PPL, parental leave was unpaid unless employees used other forms of paid time off, like sick and vacation time.  

According to the report, recipients said the PPL policy allowed for more time and opportunity for:  

  • Forming secure attachment bonds between child and parent  
  • Physical recovery from childbirth  
  • Supporting birth parent recovery  
  • Reducing stress  
  • Facilitating the use of breastmilk for feeding
  • Adjusting to new patterns/learning new skills  
  • Attending medical appointments  
  • Financial stability  

“We have over 5,000 team members across Metro Government who work hard on behalf of our Louisville families and it’s essential that we are there for them in return during important life moments like welcoming a new child,” said Mayor Craig Greenberg. “I am proud to hear directly from employees and supervisors that our Paid Parental Leave is helping with the physical and emotional health of new parents, while also helping us attract and retain employees. My hope is that this policy Louisville Metro Government has in place can serve as a model for other organizations and businesses to implement.”  

“Paid parental leave is one of the best strategies to recruit diverse and talented workers and young families to Louisville. All workplaces should adopt paid parental leave to advance gender equity and economic growth at the same time,” said Gretchen Hunt, director of the Office for Women.  

A survey was sent to all 281 PPL recipients who applied from the start of the program in July 2021 through Sept. 8, 2022, in which 63 people responded. Of those, seven volunteered for further in-depth focus groups. The project also surveyed 961 general Metro staff about their feelings toward the PPL benefit. Ninety-one of those employees were also filtered into a comparison group. These employees had become parents in the three years before PPL took effect. Their responses helped researchers see how the experience changed after PPL was introduced.  

Matt Vanderpool, an environmental health specialist at Public Health and Wellness and parent to five children, said prior to PPL he was unable to take time off when he and his wife brought a new child home.  

“With our last child, being able to take parental leave made all the difference. I not only had time to bond with my baby in those first formative months but was also better able to support my whole family,” said Vanderpool. “Parental leave helped our family financially by deferring expensive childcare costs and allowing my wife to return to her career while I was on leave. Having experienced it, parental leave is a necessary benefit for all employees to help align work/home balance. I feel I am a better parent and employee because of being able to take parental leave.”  

Key findings of the report include:  

  • PPL nearly doubles the average amount of parental leave taken by Metro employees from eight weeks to 15 weeks, increasing positive impacts on health and wellness.  
  • PPL reduces financial stressors and preserves paid sick and vacation time.  
    • Reduces the household financial stress of having to take unpaid time off when a new child arrives.  
    • Preserves sick and vacation leave for their intended uses.  
    • Lessens the stress of trying to save up sufficient paid time off (PTO) in anticipation of the new child.  
  • Most Metro employees, including supervisors, express enthusiastic support for the PPL benefits.  

“Investing in the health and wellbeing of employees and their families not only benefits them, but the workforce as a whole. Strong paid parental leave policies help keep employees from having to decide between their job and caring for their family,” said Louisville’s Interim Chief Health Strategist Connie Mendel. “This evaluation provides some early actionable data that the Paid Parental Leave policy is working, and the goal is to continue looking at ways to better support new parents both during leave and when returning to work.”  

The full Paid Parental Leave evaluation can be found here.  

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Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) is a nationally accredited, independent, academic health department committed to achieving health equity and improving the health and well-being of all Louisville residents and visitors 

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