Multnomah Co. Releases Report on Success of Paid Parental Leave Policy

NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon Board Member Julia Goodman Shares New Findings

Today, Julia Goodman, PhD, MPH and her colleagues Dawn Richardson, DrPH, MPH and David Hurtado, ScD, MS presented the results of their recent mixed-methods evaluation of Multnomah County’s two-year-old paid parental leave policy to Multnomah County Commissioners. The study, focused primarily on feedback from employees, found that nearly three-quarters of county staff reported that working for an employer that offers paid parental leave was “Important” or “Essential.”

As an emerging research leader, recent recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation research grant and NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon Board Member, Julia Goodman sees paid family and medical leave policies as essential to reproductive justice. Her work, focused on the intersection of health services research and population health, explores how social, structural, and economic factors influence maternal and child health. She praised the leadership shown by Multnomah County to enact family-friendly policies that are not only good for employee morale, but improve an employers’ ability to recruit and retain talent. To this point she said,

“We heard time and again how having paid leave allowed employees to heal from childbirth, to bond with new babies, and to be present for their families at a transformational time in their lives. We also heard that this increased loyalty to their employer. As one male employee put it: ‘I very recently applied for, interviewed for, and withdrew my name for consideration for a job with the state, because I want to have another kid. No paternity leave? Screw that.’”

The study has been released in the midst of serious efforts to pass a universal paid family and medical leave policy in 2019, which would make Oregon the seventh state in the countryand the last state on the West Coastto enact such legislation. As part of the Time to Care Coalition, Grayson Dempsey, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, thanked Multnomah County Commissioners for their leadership and had this to say on the efforts to pass a statewide universal paid family and medical leave policy:  

“Lack of access to paid leave disproportionately impacts women, people of color, single parents, and low-wage workersthose already facing the highest barriers to economic justice. Currently, only 15% of people have access to paid family leave at work, and one in four women will return to work within two weeks after giving birth. We applaud the leadership from our county commissioners to prioritize the health and wellness of their employees by providing paid parental leave, and hope our champions in the state legislature will take the next step to ensure all Oregon workers have access to both paid medical and paid family leave.” 

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NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon develops and sustains a constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every person who can become pregnant the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. We educate our members and identified supporters, provide strategic advice to candidates, mobilize get out the vote efforts, and ensure that pro-choice policies are a top priority in local and state government.

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