RALEIGH, NC – Today the NC Families Care Coalition celebrates progress on paid leave for North Carolinians with Buncombe County Commissioner’s unanimous vote for 100% paid parental and family leave for Buncombe County employees. This is truly progressive leadership on the policy and benefit to be offered.
“We are really proud that Buncombe County is leading by example as a large employer in the region. It’s a sad fact that the US is one of the only countries in the world without a federal paid parental leave policy,” said Vicki Meath, Executive Director of Just Economics of Western North Carolina. “Buncombe County Commissioners demonstrated that they value County employees, and we are so happy they are modeling family friendly workplace policies.”
Buncombe County’s 1,500 employees will receive eight weeks of parental leave and six weeks for family leave. Married couples working for the county will each get the full benefits. Employees will pay for the benefit either through a tax deduction or insurance premiums. Both types of leave will be paid at 100%.
“Too many North Carolina workers face the impossible choice between being there for a loved one and their paycheck. As COVID-19 infections continue to surge, it’s clearer than ever that workers need paid family and medical leave to care for their own health or the health of a loved one,” said Tina Sherman, MomsRising Campaign Director. “Buncombe County’s adoption of this policy adds to the growing momentum for paid leave not only all across our state but nationwide.”
All working people need time to welcome a new child home or care for a seriously ill family member. Yet too many North Carolinians are forced to choose between doing what is best for their families and earning the wages they need to support them.
Nine states and the District of Columbia, have paid family and medical leave insurance programs . In 2019, North Carolina state employees were granted access to paid leave via an executive order signed by Governor Roy Cooper under his purview. However, the majority of people working in the private sector have no access to paid leave benefits.
With the passage of Buncombe County’s policy, there are now 20 local governments offering some form of paid leave including the cities of Apex, Cary, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Hillsborough, Morrisville, Raleigh, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wilmington and Winston-Salem, along with several counties, including Durham County, Mecklenburg County, New Hanover County, Orange County, Person County and Wake County.
Only 19% of workers in the United States, and 12% of North Carolinians, have access to paid leave through their employers. This means that nearly 1 in 4 mothers return to work within 10 days of giving birth, and 1 in 5 workers retire before they planned to care for an ill spouse or family member. Many workers end up cobbling together vacation time and sick days to cover time away from work and then cross their fingers that nothing goes wrong.
The NC Families Care Coalition and its diverse statewide membership will continue to work with partners across the state of North Carolina to ensure this benefit becomes more accessible at every level. Learn more on the NC Families Care Coalition’s Local Government Paid and Family Medical Leave Fact sheet.