The city of Bexley will adopt a new paid parental leave policy for city employees if council approves Ordinance 20-20.

Mayor Ben Kessler said the new policy was under consideration before the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak and is not related to the pandemic. The ordinance proposes amending a section of the city's code to enable city employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act based on the birth or adoption of a child, with the city paying 50% of employees' pay for 10 weeks.

"Columbus did something sort of similar," Kessler said. "An employee asked us to do something similar to what Columbus was doing. We studied that and what other governments were doing."

The city's parental-leave policy offers employees the ability to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave, but the employees must use their own vacation or sick time for the entire leave, Kessler said. Ordinance 20-20 states that under the new parental leave policy, employees would use accrued leave time for the first two weeks of paid leave. After that, employees would be allowed to take an additional 10 weeks of leave under the FMLA, with the city paying 50% of their pay and the employee using accrued leave for the remainder.

Council member Troy Markham, chairman of council's finance committee and the one who introduced the ordinance, emphasized the city would be responsible for only 50% of the employee's pay during the parental leave.

"That 10 weeks is not a match" of 100% of the employee's salary, Markham said.

If an employee doesn't have enough accrued leave to cover the other 50% of his or her salary during the 10 weeks of parental leave, the employee would have to forgo that portion of salary, Kessler said.

"More commonly, what I think we would find is employees availing themselves of this would probably have a bank (of accrued leave) that they could pull from and still be paid fully throughout that period," he said.

Council has scheduled a third reading and possible vote on the ordinance for its May 12 meeting, set at 6 p.m. at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St. Because of the coronavirus stay-safe guidance, Kessler said, residents are encouraged to attend virtually at bexley.org.

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