New policy provides paid maternity, paternity leave for Hayden employees
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Employees of the town of Hayden now can receive paid maternity and paternity leave following Thursday’s Hayden Town Council meeting.
Town Council members unanimously voted to approve a resolution that provides 10 weeks of paid leave to mothers and two weeks of paid leave to fathers. This will be separate from the paid-time-off and sick time Hayden employees receive.
Town Manager Mathew Mendisco presented the resolution to the council. A father of three, he called the new provisions “his proudest achievement” during his three-year tenure. He sees it as one of the most progressive leave policies among state municipalities.
“I could be wrong, but I don’t think anybody has as extensive of leave time as we do,” he said.
Colorado does not have any specific laws requiring employers to provide time off during or after pregnancy. The federal Family Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks off in a one-year period for pregnancy and parental leave, but it is unpaid. In 2016, Colorado also passed a law requiring employers to assess “reasonable accommodations” for employees who have a condition related to pregnancy.
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Mendisco modeled Hayden’s resolution in part from his previous employer, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP. The wealth advisory firm in Denver provided him with one week of paid leave following the births of two of his children, ages 3 and 6.
His wife, Heidi, had two weeks of paid maternity leave through her former employer when she had the children, but that was not long enough to adequately care for the children, Mendisco said. Following the two weeks, she had to take short-term disability leave for partial pay, then resorted to taking her vacation time. By the end of it, she used up all of her vacation and could not take sick time. That made life hard for Mendisco’s family.
“We had no ability to go anywhere for Thanksgiving. When she was sick, I had to stay home,” he said.
Mendisco has since made it a priority to implement more forward-thinking policies as Hayden’s town manager. For him, parents — mothers in particular — need much more support than the laws and many employers provide.
“Your body just went through one of the most excruciating, painful, life-altering events and produced one of the most beautiful things ever — if we don’t have the mental fortitude to recognize that, it is asinine to me,” Mendisco said.
He hopes Hayden’s new policy enables parents to prioritize the health and well-being of their families. Finding adequate child care can be difficult and expensive. Without leave for parents following a pregnancy, employees often must burn through vacation and sick time, he said. That can lead to workplace burnout and the likelihood people will be forced to come into work sick and get everyone else ill.
Mendisco sees economic benefit in the policy as well, a “direct investment in our people,” to use his words.
He recounted a theory he learned in a college business class, which argues the more an employer is willing to invest in its employees — through wages, benefits and a positive work environment — the better those employees will perform.
“If we invest in them, they’ll invest in us,” Mendisco said. “They are going be recharged, ready to go and come to work fully prepared.”
Hayden Mayor Tim Redmond was on vacation on Thursday, so he did not attend the Town Council meeting. In a message, he said he strongly supports the council’s decision.
As he told Mendisco, “It’s time we stop living in the past and start understanding the future.”
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