Politics & Government

Kansas to provide paid parental leave for state employees, Colyer orders

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More than 17,000 government employees in Kansas now have paid parental leave, under an executive order signed Wednesday by Gov. Jeff Colyer.

The order creates a policy that all state employees under the governor’s jurisdiction will be eligible for paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Primary caregivers will receive six weeks of paid leave, while secondary caregivers will receive three weeks.

The policy specifies that employees will receive 100 percent of their regular salary during leave.

“I think this is an important initiative for all Kansans” Colyer said in a statement. “It shows how important our children are to us and how much we value family here in Kansas.

“I want state employees to have the same type of benefits that you see in private businesses across our state and nation; and I encourage all other statewide elected officials and agencies to adopt comparable policies for their employees.”

The order doesn’t apply to the Legislature or judicial branch. Agencies headed by other elected officials, such as the secretary of state’s office, are also not included.

With the order, Kansas becomes one of 15 states, including Missouri, to provide paid parental leave to employees.

A Kansas state website that lists benefits for state employees doesn’t list parental leave among the leave plans that are offered. Colyer spokeswoman Kara Zeyer said the state’s previous policy allowed employees to use vacation or sick time when taking leave.

The change is essentially fiscally neutral because many employees already take time off using their existing paid time off, which is paid by the agency.

“The real question is what are the costs of not implementing this policy? The state misses out on attracting good employees. This helps us run the state more like a business,” Zeyer said.

The Kansas City-based Women’s Foundation quickly congratulated Colyer on the move, which comes in his final months in office.

“This is great news for state employees, and all Kansans who will benefit from a healthier, stronger and more productive state workforce,” Wendy Doyle, President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation, said in a statement.

The order came on Thanksgiving Eve, and was announced by the governor’s office just minutes before 5 p.m.