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City Council approves paid parental leave measure

The Boston City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to give municipal employees six weeks of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he supports the measure, which will affect 1,200 nonunion employees. Before the vote, councilors said the policy should be extended to the city’s roughly 16,000 union employees, whose benefits are dictated by collective-bargaining contracts.

Councilor Michelle Wu, the lead sponsor of the paid-leave ordinance, described it as a “values-driven policy that is economically sound.

“We wish we could push this further to include every city employee,” Wu said. “This is the step we can take most immediately to have an impact for employees now.”


The measure will apply equally to mothers and fathers and to same-sex couples. Paid parental leave would be available to employees who have a child by any method, including adoption and surrogacy. It would also be available to a couple whose infant is stillborn.

The measure was cosponsored by Councilor Timothy McCarthy, who said the immediate weeks after a child’s birth are crucial.

“It’s such an imperative time in families’ lives [to form] the bond to become a stable family,” McCarthy said.

The measure’s other cosponsor, Councilor Tito Jackson, said that when he was adopted at the age of 2 months, his mother faked being pregnant in order to get maternity leave.

“No more faking,” Jackson said. “This is really about the character of our city.”

The ordinance will apply to employees who have worked for the city for at least a year. Employees would get all of their pay for the first two weeks of their leave. For the second two weeks, they would receive 75 percent of their pay, followed by 50 percent in the final two weeks. Employees could receive full pay for the entire six weeks by supplementing their leave with sick time or vacation.


City officials have said it was difficult to project how much the paid leave measure will cost taxpayers, but they plan to track the program closely.

In a statement, Walsh said he was proud that Boston will be one of only a handful of cities offering this benefit, which he said is important in helping to create gender equity.

“Paid parental leave will save the city money over time by attracting and retaining top talent,” Walsh said. “It is my hope that others will follow our lead. I look forward to signing the ordinance.”

Andrew Ryan can be reached at