Bills tackle parental leave, provide lactation rooms for Montgomery County employees

Montgomery County employees could see more family-friendly policies enacted if the Maryland county’s council approves two pieces of legislation.

On Tuesday, the council introduced a bill to provide paid family leave to county workers.

“Candidly, I was learning about our parental leave policies in the county, and I was shocked to learn that we really didn’t have a parental leave policy,” said the bill’s sponsor Council member Andrew Friedson.

He said the bill would provide for six weeks of paid leave at 100% of an employee’s salary to alleviate postpartum stress and household economic insecurity.

“We can model an environment that acknowledges, values and uplifts women, parents and families,” Friedson said.

Donna Rojas, chair of the Montgomery County Commission for Women, said the legislation is important because “There’s a new generation of county employees coming in.”

Workers shouldn’t have to worry about their growing families and not being able to get the leave needed to take care of their child, Rojas added. The bill would apply to all new parents, including those in foster and adoptive families.

The legislation would supplement the state’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance program and could be used in addition to other accumulated leave.

Another bill would require the county to provide “clean, comfortable” lactation rooms, where breastfeeding employees could express breast milk at work.

Rojas said that bill is especially important to employees who don’t have their own offices and may find themselves using a restroom to pump breast milk while on the job.

“That’s not hygienic,” Rojas said. Comfort while expressing breast milk isn’t a luxury, Rojas said. “Your body has to be in some kind of peaceful state” in order to express breast milk successfully. The proposed legislation also requires that employees be given adequate breaks to do it.

Hearings for the bills will be held on July 12.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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