HARRIS COUNTY, TX – On April 22nd, Harris County paid family leave goes into effect this week making the county the first in Texas to offer benefit to employees. Earlier this month, Commissioners Court voted yes to the program originally proposed by Commissioner Adrian Garcia. The new policy expands current allowance for Family Sick and Wellness leave from the current 3 days to 15 days. This includes maternity leave for children added to a family through birth, adoption, foster care, and fathers who co-parent.
“This is unprecedented for our County and defines Harris County as a national leader. I hope others follow suit. This is the fair thing to do for our working families, as many of our employees are the sole providers,” said Commissioner Adrian Garcia.
The vast majority of working people in the United States do not have paid family leave through their jobs. In Texas, even unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act is inaccessible for 62 percent of working people. The commissioner hopes this motivates other agencies and companies to look at their policies and consider expanding family leave beyond what is available to an employee through earned paid sick and vacation leave days.
In February, Commissioners Court voted to have the county’s Human Resources department conduct a formal compensation study and budgetary impact. The results from the study and budgetary impact showed increasing the current allowance for Family Sick and Wellness leave from the current 3 days to 15 days, would amount to an additional annual cost of $4.3 million. Last year, the cost of employee sick leave was about $26.3 million.
“Expanding paid family leave ensures we respect our families and they get the time they need to take care of their loved ones,” said Commissioner Garcia.
The policy will go into effect on April 27th. Harris County is the first county in Texas to offer this type of paid family leave.