The NC Families Care Coalition is excited to see the recent progress made in the City of Asheville with the inclusion of paid parental and family leave in their 2021-22 budget. The budget provision, which echoes Buncombe County’s 2020 policy, includes eight weeks of paid parental leave and six weeks of paid family and medical leave for city employees. We celebrate Asheville’s leadership in supporting employees with critical wage replacement during seasons of disruption. 

“Just Economics applauds the City of Asheville in joining Buncombe County and communities across the state in passing family friendly workplace policies,” says Vicki Meath, Executive Director of Just Economics. “The City of Asheville and Buncombe County are setting a powerful example for employers in our region by passing this important paid family leave policy.” 

Asheville joins 13 other city governments in offering paid leave to their employees; Apex, Cary, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Hillsborough, Morrisville, Raleigh, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wilmington and Winston-Salem have all passed a similar policy. Seven counties in the state have also stepped up to give employees paid leave: Buncombe, Durham, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Orange, Person, and Wake.  

The progress made in Asheville is exciting, but the fight for access to paid leave is far from over. “While we celebrate this win for the women, mothers, families and children of Asheville, there is continued work to be done to ensure that every woman in America has the same support for her ability to both work and have a child,” says Tina Sherman, Senior Campaign Director of Maternal Justice at MomsRising. “Federal lawmakers have a responsibility to their constituents to pass these job-creating and job-sustaining care infrastructure policies that will allow parents to work, children to thrive, and care workers to earn the living wages they both need and deserve.” 

The movement for paid leave is growing; so far 9 states and the District of Columbia have paid family leave laws on the books. Still, only 19% of American workers have access to paid family leave. In North Carolina, the percentage is even lower, standing at just 12%. Lack of access to paid leave means new mothers are rushed back to work too quickly – nearly one in four returns within two weeks – and one in five retirees are forced out of the workforce too early in order to care for family members. This hurts individual workers and businesses, our economy, and our state

Buoyed by the good news in Asheville, the NC Families Care Coalition is ready to keep fighting for access to paid leave. We know that paid leave is good for everyone and our statewide members are continuing to work hard on behalf of North Carolina workers. Reach out here to join our network of advocates – we’d love for you to join the campaign.